Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kidnapped US Congresswoman?


30 June 2009


For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] -

Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”

Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”


CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370

Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Modest Proposal For Health Care

When thinking about this an other topics this morning, I began wondering what a real market based economy would do for health care and I came to some interesting conclusions.

If we really did look at health care from a pure market economy point of view, then our system is completely whacked. First off, there is no reason to spend large sums of money on any form of healthcare for a single human being. in the corporate structure, no human being is indispensable. When Donald Rumsfield passes away, an another pasty old man that enjoys profiting from death and injury will rise up to take his place. So in that view, there's no reason to spend money keeping people alive, when replacing them is cheaper.

In a true market based health care system, insurance representatives would triage patients, on site or in the ER. They would decide if the injuries were worth treating, and would give the order to have people euthanized if their treatment outweighed the cost of replacing them as an employee. People who are not working or are retired would not get any healthcare. They represent a net productive drain on the corporate economic system. Once euthanized, their estates could be looted and used to generate profits for the corporate structure.

The cost saving to the insurance industry would be tremendous. They would continue to earn the premiums that they currently enjoy, but they would never have to cut another large check for medical services. If a CEO were involved in a serious car accident, the agent could do a cost analysis against treatment or replacing him out of the corporate inventory systems. If he or she were to require months of rehabilitation, during that time an interim CEO would doing his or her duties anyway, proving that CEOs are fungible. You could have them or or have them there. So why not just euthanize the CEO in the emergency room and cut the cost of expensive life saving procedures?

As to folks like you and I, we could probably be put down at the scene of the accident by an EMT trained in insurance triage. A quick look at our credit score would tell the paramedics if we need to be triaged by a professional at the hospital or we should be euthanized right there on the scene.

As many people have pointed out to me, there is no right to healthcare. No one deserves healthcare.

If you still want healthcare under this system, then arrangements could be made. You could pay for the healthcare in advance and hire attorneys to intercede on your behalf. This would differ from standard insurance in that you would prepay for procedures, and you would be banked a set limit of medical procedures to be performed in case of emergency. So long as your treatment doesn't exceed this value, you won't be euthanized. The triage agent would of course be disposed towards euthanizing you anyway, because then the money you put into escrow would become their profits, but that's what the attorney's are for. They would attempt to come to your aid, and try to prevent your euthanasia procedure using red tape to tie up the triage agent. Perhaps by getting a signed order by a judge, to block the procedure, and compel more expensive treatments, for a period of time.

I think this is the natural evolution of a market based health care system. As we know, the market is the best tool we have for making decisions. If this system can earn big profits for someone, then it is the right system for us.

And this is my modest proposal for health care.

Carbon Credits

Now that Cap'n Trade Cereal is the newest thing in town, the climate debates are hitting the financial forums. Arguments over whether changing the composition of the atmosphere will change the weather, are running rampant.

As has been pointed out to me, the idea that changing CO2 levels will change the weather is just a theory. And that's true. We need to repeat actual climate experiments on hundreds, if not thousands of earth like planets to do a proper scientific study.

We only have one planet. And even if a climate model turns out to be 100% accurate in it's predictions, that proves nothing. It's only one data point. In such an experiment there are no controls, no reproducibility.

Because we can't prove this in a proper scientific settings by trying this experiment on thousands of identical planet Earths, we won't do anything that actually changes our course. We will complete the experiment and see what happens.

'But wait!', you might argue, 'What about Cap'n Trade?' Well, reducing emissions in one country won't change what other countries do. and we're talking about slowing emissions, not stopping them. No one is saying that we'll stop burning coal or oil, or natural gas. If we stopped now, the unprovable models tell us that it will take over one hundred years for our actions to show effects. Well, in one hundred years we will have exhausted our coal, oil and gas. What difference does it really make?

We are not capable of changing our behavior to avoid self-made disasters. And no civilization in decline like ours is, has ever done it.

Now you might be tempted to point out a few examples whereby disasters were avoided. And I'll bring up one, to illustrate the significant differences between it and the others.

Take Y2K... Here we had a looming disaster for financial institutions, public infrastructure etc... We spent $billions fixing the problem before it happened. It seems like a good case for proving that we can get ahead of our problems.

But Y2K was a very special case. We could scientifically prove that it was a problem. All we had to do the scientifically prove it, was to set the computer clocks ahead and try to run the software. We could demonstrate the problems to managers, to CEOs, etc... and we could tell them how much money they would lose if they did nothing about it. We could prove that many of them would be on the corner begging for change if they didn't allocate resources to fix the problem ahead of time.

You can't do that with climate change. There is profit to be made creating climate change and in there is money to be made in selling non-solutions, like Cap'n Trade.

You can't prove that this CEO or that CEO will die a horrible death or worse, lose a lot of money if the Climate models are correct. So even if the worst models are accurate, we can't change our behavior in meaningful fashion, so long as people are getting rich off the status quo.

If you want an example, just look at our banks. they knew they were creating a shitstorm that would destroy them. But they went ahead and engaged in stupidest, most moronic business practices they could think up. And they did it to get short term bonuses.

These CEOs and executives screwed their own futures, screwed our economy and screwed all of us, for short term gain. And they knew they were shitting in their applecart. They don't care what happens next year, so long as next week, they get a fat check. So they keep shitting in their applecart, because for now, it still pays big bucks.

And these folks represent us, and the model for our government and our way of life. they are the best proof that I have, that no matter to what degree of precision you can demonstrate that we are engineering our own disaster in some indeterminate future time, we will not lift a finger to avoid it. Only if you can stamp a date on the disaster for the near term, will we react.

Until climate change is killing CEOs, we won't change our ways. By then, it won't matter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pensioners Kidnap and Torture Their Investment Advisor

Wow! You don't mess with old folks!

h/t The Market Ticker
Pensioners Kidnap and Torture Their Investment Advisor

Pensioners battered a financial adviser with Zimmer frames before kidnapping and torturing him for losing £2million of their savings.

James Amburn, 56, was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, bound with masking tape and bundled into a car boot.

‘It took them quite a while because they ran out of breath,’ said Mr Amburn, who was driven to the Bavarian lakeside home of one of the gang.

Another couple, retired doctors, joined the kidnappers in the cellar where Mr Amburn was chained and tortured for four days last week.

I enjoyed this quote, Mr Amburn said: 'I had known these people for 25 years. I had no reason to be afraid. But as I went into my home I was jumped from the rear and struck.'

He thought they were eternal dumb schmucks. I guess he finally found out how much they would take.

This story reminded me a Monty Python short. I like the ending. It seems a fitting analogy for our misunderstanding of economics and the real world. And in this age as we stand on the brink of another Great Depression, it's an accurate commentary on how a few institutions are looting our global economy and the fate they will suffer when they run out of institutions to loot and pillage.

The Crimson Permanent Assurance part 1

The Crimson Permanent Assurance part 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It Is All Intentional

I've harped for years that our leaders don't make it to the top by screwing up all of the time. If we think they are making mistakes, it's because we make erroneous conclusions about their goals.

This whole boom and bust bubble cycle was engineered. Most of the folks that conspired to destroy our economy are still screwing it up. And they have only one tool left in their toolbox, that is blowing bubbles. The US Government is the only entity left that can blow a bigger bubble than the ones we've seen so far. And when it pops, it's gonna really suck to be us.

h/t Karl Denniger

The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Judging by Mr. Greenspan's remarkably cheerful recent testimony, he still thinks he can pull that off. But the Fed chairman's crystal ball has been cloudy lately; remember how he urged Congress to cut taxes to head off the risk of excessive budget surpluses? And a sober look at recent data is not encouraging.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My City Is Headed For A Paradigm Shift

The local paper ran an article over the weekend on increasingly shady going on at the Irving (Tx) City Council. Illustrating the issues was the recent vote over City Manager Tommy Gonzales. It seems that when the Council voted favorable to renew his contract they were not informed that it contained a giant raise and perks. He's now earning $450,000 / year.

In the mean time, the city has been overspending, and over budgeting for new projects. The city is facing serious budget shortfalls.

These are problems that can be laid at the City Manager's feet, along with Mayor Herbert E. Gears.

Now, these men represent the status quo. We knew what they were about when elected the Mayor and the when the Manager was appointed and approved. They campaigned on a platform of infinite growth. And why not? Everyone else prior to them did the same thing.

The assumptions that they hold, and are repeated int he media is that bear runs are an anomaly, rather than a rule. That growth comes from spending and borrowing. That this bear run will soon bottom and the V will come and take us to a bull run.

In fact, they so believed in this, that they are betting everything on it. The City of Irving's budget for years has assumed that there would be no downturn. So money has been overspent on future revenue.

Now this isn't unusual or particularly alarming, except that they were still gambling on this during the last bond election, when the writing was on the wall that a downturn was eminent. Irving had just gone through a budget squeeze the preceding years, and learned nothing at all from it. As soon as the bubble economy got going again, the city planned even more new and expensive projects. We had a bond election, I voted against almost every project, but they all won by a clear margin.

Now Irving it seems is committed to these projects, but the bonds didn't sell, and we're strapped for cash in trying to find innovative ways to pay for them.

One way they are successfully increasing revenue is stepping up the variety of ways that they can impose fines on residents, as part of the beatification program. A neighbor of mine found out the hard way that the city requires that you obtain a permit before holding a garage sale. He's been given a $250 fine. On Saturday I saw the city inspector drive by with several signs in the back of the car. Evidently, business is good. My neighbor doesn't have the $250. He needed to find a way to earn cash to feed his family, and the garage sale wasn't profitable enough to pay the fine. He plans to work off his fine doing community service or just sitting in jail.

Irving isn't the only city that is desperate of cash. Folks I talk to everywhere are telling me about an increasing number of traffic stops. They tell me that they have gotten citations for running red lights with cameras, when the light is clearly green in the photos. More and more small town sheriffs are going back to the Reagan days of confiscating cash, so that you don't accidentally buy drugs with it.

All over the country, bad decisions, driven by the cancer cell belief in perpetual growth, is leading cities to work to suck the economic life out of it's citizens, that are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

Of course, the thousands of dollars the city collected over the weekend in fines, was just part of the beautification project. they want to make it clear that it has nothing to do with river of red ink that is flooding in. Nothing to see here folks. Move along, move along...

This will get worse. Keep your nose clean.



current actions by the White House to undermine the legal rights of bondholders in the Chrysler case, could well make it more difficult for cities to sell bonds in the future. If the law doesn't protect investors, then they'll have no choice to but to reconsider the current valuation of bonds. If the perceived risk of buying bonds is increased, then the cities will have to offer more incentives in their sales. In other words it will cost the city more to sell bonds.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Open Letter To Heather Ashley

I read with interest, the position of the new Irving School District Trustee, Heather Ashley on the subject of Intelligent Design. She stated that she was open to allowing other views to be taught in the Irving School District, in conjunction with Intelligent Design.

I understand this is likely a generous gesture on her part, in publically stating tolerance for other religious and scientific ideas that run counter to her personal religious beliefs. I recognize that there is considerable political and grassroots pressure to teach religion in public schools. We must remember though, that our US Constitution makes it clear that our government shall not promote one religion over an other. And as a corollary no religious denomination or sect over another.

Though Intelligent Design is often touted as a Christian Belief, and the argument is made that we are a Christian Nation, founded on Christian Principles, this ignores the fact various Christian denominations do not agree on Intelligent Design. Further, the Christian Denominations prevalent in North America when this great nation was founded, are not the same denominations that are now pushing to preach Intelligent Design in our classrooms.

Our current proponents of Intelligent Design are primarily Southern Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses, with some mix of Methodists. The official Catholic position is is that, faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict. This is in stark contrast to the views of other denominations.

It is my view that if we are to teach a religious position such is this, that isn't even shared by the majority of Christians, much less the other world's religions, then we must make this clear when these religious ideas are being taught.

Further, in deference to other Christian denominations, we must teach the views both in agree and dissension as espoused by the Catholic Church and it's splinter denominations. To be fair, the position of every significant Christian denomination should be covered. This should include Presbyterians, Quakers and the major Amish denominations.

So far I've only covered the dissension and debate of Christians over the religious view idea of Intelligent Design. As Irving also has Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, their religious views of creation should also be covered. It's probably unfair to leave out Unitarians, even though they have a mixed bag of theists in their congregations.

Perhaps a volunteer from each of these Religions or sects could give presentations on their religious view of creation in equal time with the creationists that wish to teach Intelligent Design?

I hope that as the Irving Independent School district increases it's focus on religious studies that it does not, short change it's students scientific studies. Science and Technology gave the USA the powerful edge it world affairs that made it until recently a world leader in science and economics. Our lost ground as an economic power has steadily kept pace with our losses as a leader in science and technology to those nations that place a higher importance on these studies than America does. Many other nations are now leaving the USA behind in the study of biology and medicine largely because their religious views are not in direct conflict with observable phenomena. They are not taught to disbelieve in provable scientific ideas, simply because it clashes with a personal or religious ideology. On this basis they are taking the best jobs and leaving the USA behind.

It is a fact that the Intelligent Design Debate is largely a USA phenomenon. Much of the world's Christians do not subscribe to this view, making it a minority belief.

If it becomes the Irving Independent School district's policy to teach a religion's minority view on creation, I hope that the School District in it's wisdom will broaden it's scope to teach a wider breath of religious views on this topic, and make it clear that these are religious, not scientific viewpoints.

Thank you for your time and your consideration of my arguments and views.
Jack Dingler

Power Outage

At my home yesterday at about 7:30, the power went out. We have had thunderstorms roll through and transformers all over the metroplex blew out from the extreme ionization.

My wife and I were watching the news and the meteorologist said, "Watch this live shot of Fort Worth, you can see a rare phenomena, called Power Lightning."

Well, what we saw was transformers all over the city, just spontaneously exploding. No lightning strikes were visible, so I'm guessing they simply discharged into locally ionized atmosphere.

Five minutes later, in Irving, our transformer exploded.

This morning power was still out, I assume that TXU doesn't stock enough transformers to replace so many.

My next door neighbor's dad needs electricity for oxygen. I'm sure that many other people in my city need electricity for life sustaining purposes. We may see a few deaths resulting from these storms.

For my wife and I, we made do. We got out the camping equipment and made coffee on our Coleman stove.

We have a cheap phone that doesn't need external power for backup. So our phone service continues.

We're just worried now that we'll be throwing out everything in the refrigerator and freezer.

And for today, the thunderstorms continue.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Rake

I had the tiniest sliver of hope left in me

When Obama got elected.

It was tenuous hope, like a tiny dying ember.

Now it's gone.

Doused by reality.

Extinguished by the cold wind.

The false friend.

The Rake of Hopes with the glad smile.

Gone, but for the memory.

That fades in the light of day.

Monday, June 08, 2009

You're Stupid If You Don't Have A High Credit Score

Whoa, I just read one of the most insulting, credit card corporation paid newsertisements yet.

And I love this choice quote.
You see, credit scores are not built around common sense.

You can read the article here.
7 Ways to Be a Dolt About Credit

Though the article likely gives good advice, it's hard sell line that only stupid people avoid credit, is very demeaning.

And the article is right that common sense isn't what drives credit scores. What drives credit scores is behavior that maximizes profits. The more of your money the credit card corporations can get out of you, the better.

And like a confidence man, they want you to feel smart for falling for their scam, and stupid if you don't take them up on their opportunity.

But the real pros will avoid the negative and just hint at it. They won't call you a dolt.

This is a low class sell.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Paden Oklahoma

This video is getting a lot of attention on YouTube. It's certainly making Paden Oklahoma famous.

This man doesn't need to be a police officer. He's not cut out for it. He's not smart enough. He's making the profession look bad. He's now a public example of how police officers behave. And he's a danger to other police officers.

I'm really surprised that he's not on leave right now. That police department, really needs to make an example of him.

And why do I make these arguments? The reason is simple, the police do not need to make enemies of medical personnel. They are in a profession where they very well may need these people to respond in a timely manner in case of emergency. If this officer is ever wounded in the line of duty, I doubt he's going to want the EMT to take his time, driving slow and stopping at every light.

The profession doesn't need stupid cops that will endanger their lives. Their job is dangerous enough already. No good cop should ever have to suffer for this man's mistakes. The profession will always attract a few bad apples. We will always have a few bad cop stories here and there. When they are identified, boot them. The good cops don't need these idiots influencing public opinion.

A cop that is stupid enough to make enemies of EMTs is likely to pull other boners. He needs to find employment where he is less likely to be a danger to himself and others.

h/t Jay Hanson

The following video is worth watching, even with the commercials...

It's interesting to see the counterproductive efforts that the constable engages in. Once he evicts these people, the houses will sit idle for years, and will probably need to be torn down a few years from now. Compared to this view, getting people out in 20 minutes, is a meaningless effort.

Once that red tag is on the door. It will serve as a beacon for looters and vandals.

As these houses fall into disrepair, suffer damage from vandals, and possibly be burned to the ground by vagrants, the city's tax base will fall.

Eventually, this constable is likely to lose his job, by undermining the city's revenue. Then he'll be forced out of his home by an upstart that will work for less.

In the long view, the job the constable is charged with is counterproductive to the health of the community. He is an opposing force, fighting against the health and vitality of the community that pays his wages.

But as he argues, he's just doing his job.