Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Yet more restrictions on freedom

Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal

29 February, 2012

Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.

The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.

Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.

Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.

The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance."

It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either.

Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.

Hours after the act passed, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection. For the American protester, this indeed means that glitter-bombing the former Pennsylvania senator is officially a very big no-no, but it doesn’t stop with just him. 

Santorum’s coverage under the Secret Service began on Tuesday, but fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney has already been receiving such security. A campaign aide who asked not to be identified confirmed last week to CBS News that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has sought Secret Service protection as well. Even former contender Herman Cain received the armed protection treatment when he was still in the running for the Republican Party nod.

In the text of the act, the law is allowed to be used against anyone who knowingly enters or remains in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so, but those grounds are considered any area where someone — rather it’s President Obama, Senator Santorum or Governor Romney — will be temporarily visiting, whether or not the public is even made aware. Entering such a facility is thus outlawed, as is disrupting the orderly conduct of “official functions,” engaging in disorderly conduct “within such proximity to” the event or acting violent to anyone, anywhere near the premises. Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense, but those occurrences covered as special event of national significance don’t just stop there, either. And neither does the list of covered persons that receive protection.

Outside of the current presidential race, the Secret Service is responsible for guarding an array of politicians, even those from outside America. George W Bush is granted protection until ten years after his administration ended, or 2019, and every living president before him is eligible for life-time, federally funded coverage. 

Visiting heads of state are extended an offer too, and the events sanctioned as those of national significance — a decision that is left up to the US Department of Homeland Security — extends to more than the obvious. While presidential inaugurations and meeting of foreign dignitaries are awarded the title, nearly three dozen events in all have been considered a National Special Security Event (NSSE) since the term was created under President Clinton. Among past events on the DHS-sanctioned NSSE list are Super Bowl XXXVI, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, most State of the Union addresses and the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

With Secret Service protection awarded to visiting dignitaries, this also means, for instance, that the federal government could consider a demonstration against any foreign president on American soil as a violation of federal law, as long as it could be considered disruptive to whatever function is occurring.

When thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Chicago this spring for the 2012 G8 and NATO summits, they will also be approaching the grounds of a National Special Security Event. That means disruptive activity, to whichever court has to consider it, will be a federal offense under the act.

And don’t forget if you intend on fighting such charges, you might not be able to rely on evidence of your own. In the state of Illinois, videotaping the police, under current law, brings criminals charges. Don’t fret. It’s not like the country will really try to enforce it — right?

On the bright side, does this mean that the law could apply to law enforcement officers reprimanded for using excessive force on protesters at political events? Probably. Of course, some fear that the act is being created just to keep those demonstrations from ever occuring, and given the vague language on par with the loose definition of a “terrorist” under the NDAA, if passed this act is expected to do a lot more harm to the First Amendment than good.

United States Representative Justin Amash (MI-03) was one of only three lawmakers to vote against the act when it appeared in the House late Monday. Explaining his take on the act through his official Facebook account on Tuesday, Rep. Amash writes, “The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal.”

“Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights,” adds the representative.

Now that the act has overwhelmingly made it through the House, the next set of hands to sift through its pages could very well be President Barack Obama; the US Senate had already passed the bill back on February 6. Less than two months ago, the president approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, essentially suspending habeas corpus from American citizens. Could the next order out of the Executive Branch be revoking some of the Bill of Rights? Only if you consider the part about being able to assemble a staple of the First Amendment, really. 

Don’t worry, though. Obama was, after all, a constitutional law professor. When he signed the NDAA on December 31, he accompanied his signature with a signing statement that let Americans know that, just because he authorized the indefinite detention of Americans didn’t mean he thought it was right.

Should President Obama suspend the right to assemble, Americans might expect another apology to accompany it in which the commander-in-chief condemns the very act he authorizes. If you disagree with such a decision, however, don’t take it to the White House. Sixteen-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue and the vicinity is, of course, covered under this act.

Greek civil disobedience

"I DON'T PAY" Movement is spreading across Europe

Chinese protest

Protest Disrupts World Bank News Conference in Beijing


A press conference held by the World Bank in Beijing was interrupted when a protester jumped at the podium, seizing the opportunity to speak out against the multilateral lender. The protest comes after a World Bank report on China's economy was released this week.

A protester disrupted a World Bank news conference in Beijing on Tuesday. He claims the multilateral lender's new report on China's economic future was "poison" and it would not bring benefits to the country.

Du Jianguo, describing himself as a self-taught independent researcher, jumped up to the podium during Tuesday's news conference... declaring his views seconds after World Bank chief Robert Zoellick began speaking. 

[Du Jianguo, Protester]: 

"They (World Bank) nevertheless sell the plan to China, suggesting Chinese banks learn from the US and learn from Wall Street. Do they want Chinese banks to become cheaters and parasites just like those American banks? Chinese state-owned enterprises are now very powerful and therefore become competitors of the Western countries. You (World Bank) suggest dividing the state-owned enterprises, this is in fact helping the American and other Western enterprises ruin their competitors."

In face of Du's criticism, Zoellick insisted in the World Bank's stance upon the launch of the report on China's financial future.

[Robert Zoellick, World Bank President]:

"I think many experts have the view that state-owned enterprises have benefited from very inexpensive financing, preferred positions in the market. And they've gained very large retained earnings that have led to China savings but have not necessarily benefited all the Chinese people."

He argued that the changes put forward in the newly released report have the interests of the Chinese people at heart.

[Robert Zoellick, World Bank President]: 

"So to reduce China's global savings rate and also benefit the Chinese people, if a lot of those dividends are sent back to provide social benefits for China's people, you'll have structural change and help support some of the social security systems." 

The protest came as the World Bank released a report that examines the country's strategic choices, the risks and opportunities in the next two decades, and makes a series of recommendations for the country's growth model.

Conditions in Spain have deteriorated at a rapid pace

Sharpen the Mower: Spain Needs Triple the Budget Cuts and Tax Hikes to Meet EMU Imposed Budget Targets

28 February, 2012
Conditions in Spain have deteriorated at a rapid pace. As little as a few months ago the Spanish economy was foolishly projected to grow at .7%. Now it expected to contract 1%.

Likewise, Spain's budget deficit was supposed to shrink to 6% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012. Instead it rose to 8.51 percent in 2011, up from a revised estimate of 8.2% which was up from a revised estimate of 6.5%.

I think you can see a clear pattern here and as a result, the EU Commission Pressures Spain for Explanations.

Spain must explain soon to the European Commission why its 2011 budget deficit was substantially higher than expected and deliver clear future budget plans, the Commission said on Tuesday.
Spain's 2011 budget deficit came to 8.51 percent of GDP, the finance minister said on Monday, up from early estimates of 8.2 percent and far above forecasts from the Commission for something nearer 6.5 percent.
"We need to understand the causes of this significant slippage," Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a regular briefing in Brussels.
Spain will have to come up with more than 40 billion euros in savings to meet that target, implying spending cuts that most economists see as impossible given that the economy is already slipping into recession and the jobless rate is the highest in the European Union at 23 percent.
Bailly said Spain also needed to deliver its 2012 budget estimates in the coming weeks, not at the end of March, saying the task in hand was so great it could not be delayed.

Sharpen the Mower

My friend Bran notes that Spain now needs to come up with another 30 billion Euros in budget cuts on top of the 15 billion promised. Moreover, those cuts need to be spread out over 9 months, not 12. 

This set of facts prompted the Spanish Gurus Blog to write Sharpen the mower. Spain's deficit exceeds 90 billion euros.

Specifically, Spain's budget deficit is 91.3 billion euros, 8.51% of GDP. So it should not take a wizard to realize the simple mathematical fact that team Rajoy has not yet begun with budget cuts and tax increases, if by 2012 Spain is to meet the 4.4% of GDP deficit target set by creditors. 

The measures announced in December were only an appetizer. Instead of sharpening the blades, I think a good lawn mower would be more practical.
The announced cuts and tax increases of last December (income tax, capital gains), are expected to generate about 14,900 million. 
To meet the objective of a 4.4% deficit, in 2012 the government deficit should not exceed 46,500 million euros.
To do so requires a nearly 30 billion euros hole to be filled, with the aggravating circumstance that it's now March and those 30 billion euros need to come in the next 9 months.
This figure is double the cuts and tax increases approved last December. So Rajoy has quite imagination if he expects this to happen.

I modified that translation substantially, but I am pretty sure I have it accurate. Spain's unemployment is already 22.9%. What pray tell would another 30 billion in cuts or tax hikes do to that number?

By the way, to go from 15 to 45 is tripling (not doubling) the tax hikes and cuts. 

Many structural reforms pertaining to jobs and work rules are quite necessary. The accompanying tax hikes are not and the Spanish economy is poised to implode as a result. 

Not to worry, EU commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker promises to "examine the situation with calm and serenity".

Call for nuclear weapons ban

This takes me back to the Cold War when the Soviet Union would call for disarmament; these calls were always rejected by the other side.
‘It's a sin’: Iran calls on treaty to ban nuclear weapons
29 February, 2012

Iran, who is suspected by many western nations of secretly developing weapons of mass destruction, has proposed a ban on nuclear weapons, calling their production or possession as “a great sin.”

“The production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in a speech to the UN-hosted Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday. 

He said Iran does not see any glory, pride or power in nuclear weapons, but, “quite the opposite.” 

Salehi suggested a limited number of options for states worried about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

"We have clearly stated time and time again that there are two alternatives in dealing with Iran's peaceful nuclear program. One way is engagement, cooperation and interaction. The other is confrontation and conflict," he said. 

However, he stressed that Iran is “confident of the peaceful nature of its program,”“does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable, legitimate rights."

Iran maintains that it is seeking peaceful cooperation with western countries, despite all allegations and sanctions.

Salehi's comments followed UN nuclear weapons inspectors' two-day visit to Tehran last week. The IAEA’s ranking experts, however, remain adamant that Iran is not being sufficiently cooperative in regards to its nuclear program. 

That was the conclusion after the IAEA’s team was denied access to a key military site in Parchin. 

However, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltani told RT on Monday that “Iran is not ruling out access to any military sites, including Parchin."

He added that the group’s aim was “to discuss the reality and framework for our future work,” not to visit nuclear sites. 

Commenting on the agency’s visit, Salehi said he hopes the dialogue with the IAEA will continue. 

Moreover, Salehi accused the West of double standards for its support of Israel, the Middle East's only state outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – and the region's sole possessor of nuclear weapons. 

The IAEA suspects that Iran’s uranium enrichment program could lead to nuclear weapons production. Iran maintains that its activity is exclusively civilian.

Drought in China

Millions thirst in Yunnan drought
29 February, 2012,

KUNMING - A drought in Yunnan province has left 3.19 million people and 1.58 million livestock short of drinking water, the provincial government said Monday.

Some plants had to halt production due to water shortage, costing rough losses of 10 billion yuan ($1.6 million), vice-governor Kong Chuizhu said.

Drought and low rainfall in the three consecutive years have dried up 273 rivers and 413 small reservoirs in Yunnan.

The drought also increased fire alert for the province, with more than 2 million mu (133,333 hectares) of forests and 8.2 million mu of corps having been affected, Kong said.

As of last autumn, the central government had allocated a total of 424 million yuan for drought relief in Yunnan. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) has provided 150 million yuan to subsidize local tobacco industry.

The provincial government has invested 1.94 billion yuan for drought relief and mobilized more than 5.4 million people to fight against the drought, Kong said.

Japanese financial scandal

Missing Money: 880,000 pensions hit by Japan investment scandal

28 February, 2012

TOKYO —A growing scandal around an investment company that has lost $2.3 billion has affected pensions for up to 880,000 people, Japan’s government said Tuesday.

AIJ Investment Advisors has reportedly been lying to clients for years, boasting of annual returns of up to 240% while in fact 185 billion yen in pension investments has melted away.

The company’s operations were suspended last week and the government ordered a probe of 260 asset management firms nationwide after allegations that most of the money in its care had disappeared.

The scandal has shocked Japan, where a rapidly aging middle class population is increasingly looking to private pension funds, while the state retirement pot also struggles due to gross mismanagement of its own.

The government said Tuesday that the 185 billion yen was from 84 separate pension funds, and affected 540,000 employees who were saving for retirement, as well as more than 340,000 people already drawing their pensions.

Most of the 84 funds entrusted fractions of their savings to AIJ, but 13 funds had a quarter of their investments exposed to AIJ, the health ministry said.

The company, which was set up in 1989, has consistently reported healthy returns on investments since the start of the last decade, but financial regulators now say the bulk of the money it looked after is gone.

It was not known whether the money was lost due to market turbulence or because the firm diverted it for other purposes.

The head of the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Shozaburo Jimi, said he had ordered investigations into the assets of 260 investment management firms.

“We will put all of our efforts in to clarify the facts of the AIJ case. We will get to the truth and draft ways to prevent similar incidents in the future,” he told a press conference.

Exact details of how much has been lost were not available as the FSA said it was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.

The case, however, has further highlighted the gap between what the graying nation needs and its creaking public pension system, run by a government already saddled with debt worth double the nation’s GDP.

The state borrows money to finance roughly a half of its annual budget, amid dwindling tax income due to two decades of economic stagnation and a shrinking workforce caused by population decline.

Dow Jones on a high

We live in a world of a total disconnect between Wall Street and the real economy.  This is a world of cooked books, where unemployment and employment levels can both fall at the same time; where we can be on the verge of collapse while the economy is ‘recovering’
Dow industrials hit pre-crash 13,000 landmark
The US stock market has reached a major landmark in its journey back from lows hit during the financial crisis.

29 February 2012
The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 13,000 for the first time since 19 May 2008, just four months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Analysts say it reflects a growing confidence in the US economy and solid profit reports from US companies.

The Dow added 23 points, or 0.2%, on Tuesday to close at 13,005. It briefly topped 13,000 earlier this month.

"I think it's a momentous day for investor confidence," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.

"What this number implies is that the financial crisis, that we were all losing sleep over, it never happened because now we're back."

While the Dow has added 6.5% this year, other measures of market performance have performed even better.

The S&P 500 is up 9% and the Nasdaq composite, which is dominated by technology stocks is up 14%.

But economic data has improved in recent months, and while Europe's debt crisis is far from resolved, the situation is seen as more stable than for some time.

"Two months ago, we were talking about a double-dip recession. Now consumer confidence is growing," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist for Schaffer's Investment Research.

"A major milestone like 13,000 wakes up a lot of investors who have missed a lot of this rally."


This Is It: Our Chance To End NDAA
David Seaman

28 Febraury, 2012

This is it, ladies and gentlemen. An opportunity for the American people to stand up and be heard. The phenomenally unconstitutional NDAA, which contains imprisonment without trial provisions (see David's video below), was quietly signed into law on New Year's Eve by President Obama.

This Wednesday, make your voice heard. As the ACLU published earlier online this evening,

 "In December, Congress made a colossal mistake by passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes this president and all future presidents to order the military to put civilians picked up far from any battlefield into indefinite detention without charge or trial, based on suspicion alone.

But now Congress has a chance to own up to its mistakes and start to fix them. On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to address problems caused by the NDAA. This first-ever hearing on the NDAA detention provisions is the first step for Congress to try to clean up the NDAA's mess. The statute will only get fixed, however, if Congress hears from you."

Here's a link to the ACLU's form to tell Congress the NDAA must be fixed during Wednesday's hearing.

Here's a breakdown of the laws and civil rights protections NDAA violates:

David injects NDAA into discussion during live television interview (1 of 2):

'The ultimate dollar disaster'

Precursors to Ultimate Dollar Disaster Are in Place; 2014 Remains the Outside Timing for Same

Shadow Stats, 25 January, 2012
Events Moving at an Accelerating Pace Towards the Great Collapse

Little has changed in the basic outlook.  The U.S. economic and systemic-solvency crises of the last five years continue to deteriorate.  Yet they remain just the precursors to the coming Great Collapse: a hyperinflationary great depression.  The unfolding circumstance will encompass a complete loss in the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar; a collapse in the normal stream of U.S. commercial and economic activity; a collapse in the U.S. financial system, as we know it; and a likely realignment of the U.S. political environment.  Outside timing on the hyperinflation remains 2014, but events of the last year have accelerated the movement towards this ultimate dollar catastrophe.  Following Mr. Bernanke’s extraordinary efforts to debase the U.S. currency in late-2010, the dollar had lost its traditional safe-haven status by early-2011.  Whatever global confidence had remained behind the U.S dollar was lost in July and August.  That was in response to the lack of political will—shown by those who control the White House and Congress—to address the long-range insolvency of the U.S. government, and as a result of the later credit-rating downgrade to U.S. Treasury debt.

Those latter circumstances triggered something of dollar selling panic, particularly as reflected in the corresponding buying of gold and Swiss francs, but various interventions, misdirection and manipulations helped to quell the currency disorders.  Still, many financial markets were left rocking with the aftershocks of a major shift in the global view of the U.S. dollar. 

The economy has underperformed and likely will continue to underperform consensus forecasts by a significant margin.  In turn, weaker-than-expected economic growth will mean significantly worse-than-expected federal budget deficits, Treasury funding needs and banking-system solvency conditions. 

With the U.S. election just nine months off, political pressures will mount to favor fiscal stimulus measures instead of restraint.  The Fed should be forced to provide new “easing” in an effort to continue propping the banking system (the explanation will be an effort to boost the economy).  Given the Treasury’s funding needs, the easing likely will in the form of renewed buying of U.S. Treasuries, with the Fed remaining lender of last resort there.  

Consistent with the precedent set in 2008, the Fed, and likely the Treasury, also will remain in place to do whatever is needed, at whatever cost, to prevent systemic collapse in the United States.  All of these actions, though, have costs in terms of higher domestic inflation and intensified dollar debasement

The U.S. dollar remains highly vulnerable to massive, panicked selling, at any time, with little or no warning.  The next round of Federal Reserve or U.S. government easing or stimulus could be the proximal trigger for such a currency panic and/or for strong efforts to strip the U.S. currency of its global reserve currency status.

As the advance squalls from this great financial tempest come ashore, the government could be expected to launch a variety of efforts at forestalling the hyperinflation’s landfall, but such efforts will buy little time and ultimately will fail in preventing the dollar’s collapse.  The timing of the early days—the onset—of full-blown hyperinflation likely will be coincident with a broad global rejection of the U.S. dollar, which, again, could happen at any time.

With no viable or politically-practical way of balancing U.S. fiscal conditions and avoiding this financial economic Armageddon, the best action that individuals can take at this point remains to protect themselves, both as to meeting short-range survival needs as well as to preserving current wealth and assets over the longer term.  Efforts there, respectively, would encompass building a store of key consumables, such as food and water, and moving assets into physical precious metals and outside of the U.S. dollar.

The following graph of Federal Reserve notes versus gold gives a suggestion of how the markets have been discounting the mounting U.S. fiscal and dollar problems since at least 2000.

To read the article GO HERE

Fukushima update

1/3 of Fukushima kids have lumps in thyroids: Arnold Gunderson

Shining the Light on the Triple Meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

CCTV host Margaret Harrington interviews Maggie and Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education Corp regarding the triple meltdown in March 2011 at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The video is 58 minutes, so if you want to read the points of significance within this interview, a bullet list is provided below. -- JB, Supervising Editor

10:30: enormous number of Japanese people requesting more information from regulators about radiation levels in contaminated rice, fish, beef, green tea, water, fall-out etc–without getting answers

12:30: within 4 days of Fukushima, 40,000 times normal levels of noble gases, Xenon, Krypton etc from Fukushima reached Seattle. That was followed by heavier radioisotopes, such as Iodine, Cesium and Strontium

13:00: One third of Fukushima kids tested have lumps in their thyroids

14:30: Why is this information marginalized by the media?

15:15: US government down-played extent of the accident early on. Hillary Clinton reached agreement with Prime Minister of Japan that US would not interfere with Japanese exports….

15:30: NRC knew extent of accident 9 days before Japanese people were warned and evacuated

16:30 Governments played with people’s lives for sake of economy. In US and Canada all monitoring was shut down on westcoast…Independent labs showed tremendous amounts of radiation. FDA is not testing. The attitude is: If you don’t know, it’s not there….What you don’t know can’t hurt you

17:00 There is a concerted effort among the nuclear industry to deliberately downplay risks of low-level radiation. World-wide push controlled by nuclear industry

19:00 chances of kids in Fukushima getting cancer are 1:20 to 1:100

19:30 Germany has put in place plan to end nuclear power. Also unrest and demonstrations in France, premier nuclear power country. Italy is also phasing out nuclear power

21:00 German study showing cancer risk from nuclear power plants, esp. early childhood cancers. French study just substantiated that study

25:00 many other illnesses can be attributed to radiation

25:30 Govt of Japan will do its best to mask/ downplay deaths and illnesses related to Fukushima. Statistics not available

27:00–crowdsourcing of radiation monitoring

28:30: Bill Gates is handing over new Uranium reactors with questionable safety standards to China

31:30 Biological effects of ionizing radiation (BEIR). US National Academy of Sciences study. Concern over release of radiation from cedar buds and highly radioactive locusts (eaten by Japanese)

34:15 Radiation exposure and cancer rate are linear (LNTA). Cancer risk in evacuated areas: 1/500 (2 REM/ year). Japanese govt willing to let people go back. Young girls have 5x higher cancer risk than general population!, i.e., 1/100 young girls will get cancer due to radiation exposure for each year in Fukushima Prefecture. Hot particles effect not included in calculation of risk

36:00 Ian Goddard video: Japan govt. raised allowable exposure per year from 1 to 20 MilliSieverts. US National Academy of Sciences ( predicts that this level will cause cancers everywhere, primarily women and children

41:15 Children are most vulnerable to radiation

42:00 There is no harmless dose of radiation. Children, and especially girls, are much more vulnerable to radiation effects (girls 2x or greater more vulnerable than same-aged boys)

44:00 International comprehensive study (largest study ever of nuclear workers, involving 15 countries): statistical correlation between radiation exposure and cancer at average annual dose: 2 milli Sieverts/ yr –this is 1/10th of exposure of people in Fukushima

49:00 slow dose rate may be associated with higher cancer risk than fast dose rate. Higher risk of nuclear workers than atom bomb survivors

51:00 comparison of risk models–slow and fast dose. Leading models may underestimate low dose radiation risk. Genetic damage due to radiation.

57:00 Japan’s allowance of 20 Milli Sievert radiation/ year is NOT SAFE.


Occupy Groups Get Funding

Wall Street Journal, 28 February, 2012

A group of business leaders—including Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg—are planning to pour substantial funds into the Occupy Wall Street movement in hopes of sustaining the protests and fostering political change.

Their goal is to provide some ballast to an amorphous movement that captured the world's attention with nonstop, overnight protests in dozens of cities but has had trouble regaining momentum since most of those encampments were broken up by police in the past few months.

The latest Occupy supporters call themselves the Movement Resource Group and have raised about $300,000 so far to parcel out in grants to protesters, said Mr. Cohen. Their goal is to raise $1.8 million.

A little more than two-thirds was donated by the Ben & Jerry's Foundation and members of the group's steering committee, which includes Dal Lamagna, founder of the company Tweezerman, entertainment-industry executive Richard Foos and Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, along with Messrs. Cohen, Greenfield and Goldberg.

The remainder—about $60,000—came from individual donors, including Norman Lear, a television producer and philanthropist, and Terri Gardner, former president and chief executive of Soft Sheen hair products.

"Many of us have been working for progressive social change," Mr. Cohen, a prominent supporter of liberal causes, said Monday. "There's been a critical ingredient missing."

Since its beginning, the grass-roots movement has drawn criticism in some circles of its ambiguous message. Also, some tent cities have had episodes of violence and raised issues of sanitation and public safety.

"I don't think the Occupy movement has put forward a specific agenda. What it hasn't been is a force that can unite," said Josh Barro, 27 years old and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a New York government policy think tank that promotes free markets.

The group will give grants of as much as $25,000 to protesters across the country after undergoing an application process that begins in March. The group, along with five Occupy activists, will review applications.

Of the money raised so far, $150,000 will pay for rent and equipment for an office in New York for the national Occupy movement. An additional $100,000 has been set aside for individual project proposals, and a small portion of the money has been set aside to provide stipends for people Mr. Cohen describes as "core activists."

Mr. Cohen and other members of the group met with protesters in a Manhattan church Sunday night to pitch the idea to dedicated activists. Not all were impressed, on the theory it would only add bureaucracy.

"Essentially this is a group of very wealthy people who have picked a handler to deal with Occupy Wall Street," said Ravi Ahmed, 34 years old, a protester who works as an academic administrator. "They've re-created what's wrong with nonprofits and philanthropy structures."
Mr. Goldberg, 61, said he agrees with the message of the movement.

"We will try to grow with you and work with you," he said.

Move to end Petrodollar

This is the Petrodollar that wars have been fought over.

What this article says about New Zealand which as far as I can ascertain, has NO gold reserves is perhaps left unsaid.

Iran Moves Further To End Petrodollar, Announces Will Accept Payment In Gold Instead Of Dollars

28 February, 2012

Much has been spun in recent weeks to indicate that as a result of collapsing trade, Iran's economy is in shambles and that the financial embargo hoisted upon the country by the insolvent, pardon, developed world is working. We had a totally different perspective on things "A Very Different Take On The "Iran Barters Gold For Food" Story" in which we essentially said that Iran, with the complicity of major trading partners like China, India and Russia is preparing to phase out the petrodollar: a move which would be impossible if key bilateral trade partners would not agree to it. 

Gradually it appears this is increasingly the case following a just released Reuters report that "Iran will take payment from its trading partners in gold instead of dollars, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted the central bank governor as saying on Tuesday."

Via Reuters:

Iranian financial institutions have been hit by sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union in an effort to force Tehran to halt its nuclear programme.

Significant difficulties in making dollar payments to Iranian banks have forced Iran's trading partners to look for alternative ways to settle transactions, including direct barter deals.

"In its trade transactions with other countries, Iran does not limit itself to the U.S. dollar, and the country can pay using its own currency," central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted as saying. "If a country should so choose, it can pay in gold and we would accept that without any reservation."

The sanctions include a phased ban on importing oil from Iran, which EU member states are to implement by July.

China and India, two of the largest consumers of Iranian oil, have said they will continue imports, but Japan and Korea have announced cuts to quotas following pressure from the United States. As a result the value of Iran's rial has plummeted, pushing the price of goods sharply higher across the country.

And from the source:

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Mahmoud Bahmani says the country can trade in currencies other than the American dollar in its foreign transactions.

“Iran does not just work with the dollar in trade transactions and every country can pay in its own currency,” said Mahmoud Bahmani on Tuesday.

Bahmani added that Tehran could receive gold in its transactions instead of currency transfers.

In case a country is willing to pay for the price of its imports from Iran in gold, there is no problem in this respect, he noted.

According to Bahmani, Iran imports commodities from China and India in exchange for the countries’ currencies. Tehran’s move is aimed at bypassing the upcoming freeze on CBI’s assets and the oil embargo, which the European Union's foreign ministers agreed to impose on the Islamic Republic.
Now this would be great news for Greece which as previously reported had at times relied for more than 50% of its crude imports on Iran. 

There is just one problem: very soon the country will no longer have said gold in its possession, as part of the preapproved Greek bailout of Europe, the country's constitution would be changed to reflect that even its gold now is part of the bailout conditions, and European banks have a lien on it. Especially if said gold is located in the basement of the NY Fed where it most likely resides.

As for other countries, such as China which we are confident has been quietly stockpiling gold in the last few years, and will make a surprise announcement any day now, as it did back in 2009... that's a different matter entirely.

Syria: US on same side as al-Qaeda

Syria: Clinton Admits US On Same Side As Al Qaeda To Destabilise Assad Government
by Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham

27 February, 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that Al Qaeda and other organizations on the US “terror list” are supporting the Syrian opposition.

Clinton said: “We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, al-Qaida [sic], Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be sure, supporting – claiming to support the opposition [in Syria].” [1] (Click here to watch video)

Yet at the same time, in the above BBC interview the US Secretary of State repeats the threadbare Western claim that the situation in Syria is one of a defenceless population coming under “relentless attack” from Syrian government forces.

There is ample evidence that teams of snipers who have been killing civilians over the past year in Syria belong to the terrorist formations to which Clinton is referring to.

As Michel Chossudovsky points out in a recent article: “Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups – covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence – have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings, including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers, including mercenaries, have targeted the police, armed forces as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians. 

While the Syrian government and military bear a heavy burden of responsibility, it is important to underscore the fact that these terrorist acts – including the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children – are part of a US-NATO-Israeli initiative, which consists is supporting, training and financing  ‘an armed entity’ operating inside Syria.” [2]

The admission at the weekend by Hillary Clinton corroborates the finding that armed groups are attacking civilians and these groups are terroristic, according to US own definitions, and that the situation in Syria is not one of unilateral state violence against its population but rather is one of a shadowy armed insurrection.

Clinton’s admission retrospectively justifies the stance taken by Russia and China, both of which vetoed the proposed UN Security Council Resolution on 4 February, precisely because that proposal was predicated on a spurious notion that the violence in Syria was solely the responsibility of the Al Assad government.

Clinton also acknowledges in the BBC interview that there is “a very strong opposition to foreign intervention from inside Syria, from outside Syria” – which tacitly concedes the fact that the Syrian population is aware that the so-called oppositionists within their country are Al Qaeda-affiliated mercenaries. 

Meanwhile, the US Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have separately issued statements that they are willing to send arms to Syria to support the insurrection against the Damascus government. Given the still substantial popular support for the government of Bashir Al Assad, such a declaration by Saudi Arabia and Qatar towards a fellow Arab League member state signifies an unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Indeed, legal opinion could argue that it constitutes a self-indicting act of international aggression.

Besides, such a declaration by Saudi Arabia and Qatar of being willing to arm Syrian insurrectionists, can be seen as a cynical cover for what is already taking place. It is known that the Gulf monarchical states are already supplying weapons illicitly to the self-styled Syrian Free Army, along with Turkey and Israel.

So far, the US is officially maintaining the fiction that it is not involved in supplying arms to Syria even though Washington has demanded “regime change” and in spite of evidence that Western covert forces, including American, British and French operatives, are actively engaged with the opposition groups.

It is richly ironic that the unelected fundamentalist Sunni regimes of the Persian Gulf are supporting Al Qaeda affiliated groups within Syria purportedly to “bring about democratic reforms”. This is the same dynamic that prevailed in Libya where the overthrow of that country’s government by Western and Gulf Arab powers has now led to a collapse in human rights and social conditions.

Once again, Syria is indicating the same alignment of allies: Washington, London and other NATO powers comfortably in bed with Sunni/Salafist tyrants and terrorists, claiming to be supporting democratic freedom and human rights.

Of course, the real agenda has nothing to do with either democratic freedoms or human rights – as the awry alignment of allies clearly indicates. Rather, this is about Washington and its proxy powers trying to engineer regime change throughout the Arab World and beyond to conform to geopolitical objectives, principally the control of raw energy. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria are but a sequence of stops on a global roadmap of permanent war that also swings through Iran. Russia and China are the terminal targets.

Washington is evidently prepared to use any means necessary to assert this agenda: illegal wars, death on a massive scale, possibly triggering global war and the use of nuclear weapons. But surely the most preposterous mask is the “war on terror”, when it is seen – from the words of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – that Washington is now openly collaborating with the supposed “terrorist enemy” to bring about regime change in desired countries.

If somehow the weasel words from Washington could be taken at face value, then if it were serious about wanting regime change to facilitate democracy, human rights and world peace, the first regime that pre-eminently qualifies for such change is Washington itself.


[1] Transcript of Clinton interview on BBC, 26 February, 2012: