Friday, April 29, 2011

Indian Love - What do you do when the family says no.

Man beheads girlfriend

B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times

It was a college romance with a horrific ending. On Wednesday, a student of St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, was beheaded by her boyfriend inside the campus in the heart of the city. Bijendra Kumar alias Golu, 23, an engineering diploma student of Jamshedpur, used a small dagger to severe the head of Kh usbu, 18, an intermediate student. He was nabbed by students and security guards.

Khusbu belonged to Tatilsilwai on the outskirts of Ranchi, but she visited her uncle’s house in Jamshedpur’s Sonari locality. “The duo apparently met in Jamshedpur and had an affair, which might have turned sour,” said city SP Sambhu Thakur.

Kumar’s family in Jamshedpur had no information about the crime. When HT contacted the family, his mother Yamini Devi said,

“He left the house around 8.30am for the institute and we haven’t heard from him yet.”

When briefed about the incident, Yamini broke down. She said, “We came to know about his affair with Khusbu two months ago when she ran away from her house and came to Jamshedpur to marry my son.” Khusbu’s uncle Rajendra Singh had then intervened and thrashed Kumar for inciting his minor niece to elope. Police said they were trying to find out the reasons behind the murder.

Eyewitnesses said Khusbu had come to college with her grandmother to take her exams. Kumar had followed her, and got into an altercation with her grandmother. “... He attacked her as soon as she came out of the exam hall,” said an eyewitness.

Kumar was thrashed before police took him and sent him to hospital. “We were in love for the last five years, but our parents did not allow us to unite, so we decided to die together. After killing her, I was about to kill myself when they caught me,” said Kumar.

“There cannot be anything more brutal than this,” said Nicholas Tete, principal of St Xavier’s College.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UN: Led by Bolivia jumps over the edge

United Nations

Very unhealthy.  The UN typically deals with three issues - the inane and unnecessary, condemnations of Israel, and wasteful and unhelpful. 

U.N. Prepares to Debate Whether 'Mother Earth' Deserves Human Rights Status

By Jonathan Wachtel
April 18, 2011

United Nations diplomats on Wednesday will set aside pressing issues of international peace and security to devote an entire day debating the rights of “Mother Earth.”

A bloc of mostly socialist governments lead by Bolivia have put the issue on the General Assembly agenda to discuss the creation of a U.N. treaty that would grant the same rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Mother Nature.

Treaty supporters want the establishment of legal systems to maintain balance between human rights and what they perceive as the inalienable rights of other members of the Earth community -- plants, animals, and terrain.

Communities and environmental activists would be given more legal power to monitor and control industries and development to ensure harmony between humans and nature. Though the United States and other Western governments are supportive of sustainable development, some see the upcoming event, “Harmony with Nature,” as political grandstanding -- an attempt to blame environmental degradation and climate change on capitalism.

“The concept ‘Mother Earth’ is not universally accepted,” said a spokesman from the British Mission to the U.N. about Bolivia’s proposal. “In general, our view is that we should focus on tackling important sustainable development issues through existing channels and processes.”

The General Assembly two years ago passed a Bolivia-led resolution proclaiming April 22 as “International Mother Earth Day.” The measure was endorsed by all 192 member states. But Bolivian President Evo Morales envisioned much more, vowing in a speech to U.N. delegates that a global movement had begun to lay “out a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.”

Morales, who repeatedly says “the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism,” called for creating a charter that defends the right to life for all living things. Morales, who was named World Hero of Mother Earth by the General Assembly, has since made great strides in his campaign.

In January, Bolivia became the world’s first nation to grant the natural environment equal rights to humans. Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth is heavily influenced by the spiritual indigenous Andean world outlook that revolves around the earth deity Pachamama, roughly translated to Mother Earth.

The Bolivian law establishes 11 rights for nature that include: the right to life and to exist; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered; the right to have nature’s processes free from human alteration. The law also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth to act as an ombudsman, which will ensure nature is “not being affected my mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.”

Emboldened by this triumph, Morales’ goal is to emulate his domestic achievement as a U.N. treaty. In a 2008 address to a U.N. forum on indigenous people, he said the first step in saving the Earth is to “eradicate capitalism” and to force wealthy industrialized countries to “pay their environmental debt.” Morales presented 10 points, or Evo’s Ten Commandments, as they are affectionately called by devotees, to save the planet.

Among them is a call to end the capitalist system, and a world without imperialism or colonialism. Respect for Mother Earth is Commandment 6. U.N. critics slammed the decision to devote an entire day debating Mother Earth legislation as not only a waste of time and resources, but a major blunder.

“The UN is a one-act show,” said U.N. watchdog Anne Bayefsky, of Eye on the U.N., in which “Western democracies are responsible for the world’s ills and developing countries are perpetual victims.”

Bayefsky said the General Assembly’s focus on Mother Earth distracts from more pressing issues and problems at the U.N.

“The rights of inanimate objects violated by developed countries are considered a useful focal point this month,” she said, adding that, “Syria is scheduled to be elected next month to the U.N.’s top “human” rights body, and Iran is on the U.N.’s top women’s rights body.” Syria is one of the sponsors of the “Mother Earth” treaty.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the U.N., Pablo Solon, who will represent Morales at the debate and ‘expert’ panel discussions at U.N. headquarters, said, “Presently many environmentally harmful human activities are completely legal,” including those that cause climate change.

“If legal systems recognized the rights of other-than-human beings,” he says, such as mountains, rivers, forests and animals, “courts and tribunals could deal with the fundamental issues of environmental contamination.”

It is not clear if Bolivia’s new tough environmental laws will actually go as far as to protect life forms like insects, but the legislation does include all living creatures.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Obama: Depends Upon the Meaning of the Word 'Is'

We did hear a little about these nasty things called SIGNING STATEMENTS back in 2008 when Democrats attacked Bush senselessly over his use of signing statements -

According to Wikipedia, which I am not a fan of - A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President of the United States upon the signing of a bill into law.

Wikipedia continues with an explanation of the controversy surrounding SIGNING STATEMENTS during "the administration of President George W. Bush, there was a controversy over the President's use of signing statements, which critics charged was unusually extensive and modified the meaning of statutes."

The esteemed American Bar Association stated in 2006, that the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws serves to "undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers".

Mr. Obama made much of this, as did liberals nearly everyday during the last two years of the Bush administration when Democrats took control of Congress.

During the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama informed the American people that he had taught Constitutional law for ten years and he knew the law and Signing Statements were NOT Constitutional.
In Obama's own words -  "That's not part of his power, but this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he goes along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress."

In 2011, the White House Press Secretary told the American people that President Obama was never against signing statements, just when President Bush "abused" them.  The understanding of abuse would be subjective - when Obama said it was abuse or when Liberals said it was abuse, BUT what Obama said was not about abuse of power so much as the fact it was UNCONSTITUTIONAL and as such was an abuse of power.

The Press Secrertary continued - Obama's "concern was with what he saw as an abuse of the signing statement by the previous administration. So that the positions he took in signing statements on the budget bill entirely consistent with that position, you need to retain the right to, as president, to be able to issue those signing statements, but obviously they should not be abused."

Just another of the MANY ways Obama redefines the meaning of the word 'is' yet when Bush made it clear he was for or against something, he was attacked both on the merit of the cause and the method of delivery.  Sometimes more on the method of delivery. 

Makes perfect sense to me.


Who is paying? Apparently not everyone.

Super rich see federal taxes drop dramatically

Sun Apr 17, 4:02 pm ET

WASHINGTON – As millions of procrastinators scramble to meet Monday's tax filing deadline, ponder this: The super rich pay a lot less taxes than they did a couple of decades ago, and nearly half of U.S. households pay no income taxes at all.

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns with the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year. The average income on those returns in 2007, the latest year for IRS data, was nearly $345 million. Their average federal income tax rate was 17 percent, down from 26 percent in 1992.

Over the same period, the average federal income tax rate for all taxpayers declined to 9.3 percent from 9.9 percent.

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, so how can people who make so much pay so little in taxes? The nation's tax laws are packed with breaks for people at every income level. There are breaks for having children, paying a mortgage, going to college, and even for paying other taxes. Plus, the top rate on capital gains is only 15 percent.

There are so many breaks that 45 percent of U.S. households will pay no federal income tax for 2010, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

"It's the fact that we are using the tax code both to collect revenue, which is its primary purpose, and to deliver these spending benefits that we run into the situation where so many people are paying no taxes," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center, which generated the estimate of people who pay no income taxes.

The sheer volume of credits, deductions and exemptions has both Democrats and Republicans calling for tax laws to be overhauled. House Republicans want to eliminate breaks to pay for lower overall rates, reducing the top tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Republicans oppose raising taxes, but they argue that a more efficient tax code would increase economic activity, generating additional tax revenue.

President Barack Obama said last week he wants to do away with tax breaks to lower the rates and to reduce government borrowing. Obama's proposal would result in $1 trillion in tax increases over the next 12 years. Neither proposal included many details, putting off hard choices about which tax breaks to eliminate.

In all, the tax code is filled with a total of $1.1 trillion in credits, deductions and exemptions, an average of about $8,000 per taxpayer, according to an analysis by the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent watchdog within the IRS.

More than half of the nation's tax revenue came from the top 10 percent of earners in 2007. More than 44 percent came from the top 5 percent. Still, the wealthy have access to much more lucrative tax breaks than people with lower incomes.

Obama wants the wealthy to pay so "the amount of taxes you pay isn't determined by what kind of accountant you can afford."

Eric Schoenberg says to sign him up for paying higher taxes. Schoenberg, who inherited money and has a healthy portfolio from his days as an investment banker, has joined a group of other wealthy Americans called United for a Fair Economy. Their goal: Raise taxes on rich people like themselves.

Shoenberg, who now teaches a business class at Columbia University, said his income is usually "north of half a million a year." But 2009 was a bad year for investments, so his income dropped to a little over $200,000. His federal income tax bill was a little more than $2,000.

"I simply point out to people, `Do you think this is reasonable, that somebody in my circumstances should only be paying 1 percent of their income in tax?'" Schoenberg said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he has a solution for rich people who want to pay more in taxes: Write a check to the IRS. There's nothing stopping you.

"There's still time before the filing deadline for them to give Uncle Sam some more money," Hatch said.

Schoenberg said Hatch's suggestion misses the point.

"This voluntary idea clearly represents a mindset that basically pretends there's no such things as collective goods that we produce," Schoenberg said. "Are you going to let people volunteer to build the road system? Are you going to let them volunteer to pay for education?"

The law is packed with tax breaks that help narrow special interests. But many of the biggest tax breaks benefit millions of American families at just about every income level, making them difficult for politicians to touch.

The vast majority of those who escape federal income taxes have low and medium incomes, and most of them pay other taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and retail sales taxes.

The share of people paying no federal income tax has dropped slightly the past two years. It was 47 percent for 2009. The main difference for 2010 was the expiration of a tax break that exempted the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits from taxation, Williams said.

In 2009, nearly 35 million taxpayers got a tax break for paying interest on their home mortgages, and nearly 36 million taxpayers took the $1,000-per-child tax credit. About 41 million households reduced their federal income taxes by deducting state and local income and sales taxes from their taxable income.

About 36 million families cut their taxes by nearly $35 billion by deducting charitable donations, and 28 million taxpayers saved a total of $24 billion because their income from Social Security and railroad pensions was untaxed.

"As a matter of policy, there would be a lot of ways to save money and actually make these things work better," said Leonard Burman, a public affairs professor at Syracuse University. "As a matter of politics, it's really, really difficult."


Tax Day Passeth

And we have learned that the president and his wife, donated a considerable amount of their income to a chairty for children of military personnel killed in action.  Nothing will ever make the life of a child who loses a parent better, but it is a good thing they have done and something more of us should do.

Obamas Paid $453,770 Taxes on $1.7 Million Income

President Obama and wife Michelle paid $453,700 in federal taxes on $1.7 million 2010 income

By TOM RAUM Associated Press
WASHINGTON April 18, 2011 (AP)

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported income of $1.728 million for last year, much of it from the sale of the president's pre-presidency books. They paid federal taxes totaling $453,770 after receiving a $12,334 refund.

The Obamas paid their taxes at lowered Bush-era rates, even as he campaigns to end them for households with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 — a category into which the first family clearly fits.

Joining the flocks of Americans filing their taxes near the end of the federal filing period, the Obamas made withholding and other payments to the Internal Revenue Service last year totaling $466,104. That was an overpayment, so they got their refund. The president and first lady reported donating $245,075 — about 14.2 percent of their adjusted gross income — to 36 different charities.

The largest single gift was a contribution of $131,075 to the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that offers a scholarship fund for children of soldiers who die or are disabled.

The Obamas' adjusted gross income for 2010 of $1.728 million was well below the $5.5 million they reported for the year before, both totals mostly driven by royalties from books written earlier by Obama. They included his 1995 memoir "Dreams From My Father" and his 2006 political book, "The Audacity of Hope."

The White House released the returns on the day that federal tax returns are due this year, although Obama signed his 1040 form last Tuesday. Michelle Obama signed the tax return on Wednesday.

They also released their Illinois income tax returns showing they paid $51,568 in state income taxes for last year.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, reported more modest earnings, a combined adjusted gross income of $379,178, on which they paid $86,626 in federal taxes for 2010. The Bidens' withholding and earlier payments came to just $79,446 — so they had a tax bill of $7,180 to settle.

The Obamas paid 26 percent of their adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. The Bidens paid 23 percent.

The Bidens paid $14,479 in Delaware income taxes and $3,515 in Virginia income taxes. Jill Biden is an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College. The Bidens contributed $5,360 to charities.

obama admin

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tasty meat: Nearly 50% with bacteria

Nearly half of US meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria, study suggests

April 15, 2011 

PHOENIX -- There may be scores of drug-resistant bacteria lurking in your grocery meat aisle.

A study Friday by the Translational Genomics Research Institute, found that Staphylococcus aureus -- bacteria that causes most staph infections including skin infections, pneumonia and blood poisoning -- was present in meat and poultry from US grocery stores at "unexpectedly high rates."

Researchers found nearly half of the meat and poultry samples, 47 percent, were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria, 52 percent, were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.

For the study, researchers looked at 136 samples involving 80 brands of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 grocery stores in five cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.

"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial," Dr. Lance B. Price, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today."

According to the findings published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease, industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics, "are ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans."

"Antibiotics are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections; but when Staph are resistant to three, four, five or even nine different antibiotics -- like we saw in this study -- that leaves physicians few options," Price said.

Experts say although Staph can be killed with proper cooking, it still may pose a risk to people who handle food improperly or who cross-contaminate various ingredients in the kitchen.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

One of the Most Dishonest Speeches in the Last 40 Years

The Presidential Divider

Obama's toxic speech and even worse plan for deficits and debt

Wall Street Journal
April 14, 2011

Did someone move the 2012 election to June 1? We ask because President Obama's extraordinary response to Paul Ryan's budget yesterday—with its blistering partisanship and multiple distortions—was the kind Presidents usually outsource to some junior lieutenant. Mr. Obama's fundamentally political document would have been unusual even for a Vice President in the fervor of a campaign.

The immediate political goal was to inoculate the White House from criticism that it is not serious about the fiscal crisis, after ignoring its own deficit commission last year and tossing off a $3.73 trillion budget in February that increased spending amid a record deficit of $1.65 trillion. Mr. Obama was chased to George Washington University yesterday because Mr. Ryan and the Republicans outflanked him on fiscal discipline and are now setting the national political agenda.

Mr. Obama did not deign to propose an alternative to rival Mr. Ryan's plan, even as he categorically rejected all its reform ideas, repeatedly vilifying them as essentially un-American. "Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America," he said, supposedly pitting "children with autism or Down's syndrome" against "every millionaire and billionaire in our society." The President was not attempting to join the debate Mr. Ryan has started, but to close it off just as it begins and banish House GOP ideas to political Siberia.

Mr. Obama then packaged his poison in the rhetoric of bipartisanship—which "starts," he said, "by being honest about what's causing our deficit." The speech he chose to deliver was dishonest even by modern political standards.

The great political challenge of the moment is how to update the 20th-century entitlement state so that it is affordable. With incremental change, Mr. Ryan is trying maintain a social safety net and the economic growth necessary to finance it. Mr. Obama presented what some might call the false choice of merely preserving the government we have with no realistic plan for doing so, aside from proposing $4 trillion in phantom deficit reduction over a gimmicky 12-year budget window that makes that reduction seem larger than it would be over the normal 10-year window.

Mr. Obama said that the typical political proposal to rationalize Medicare's gargantuan liabilities is that it is "just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse." His own plan is to double down on the program's price controls and central planning. All Medicare decisions will be turned over to and routed through an unelected commission created by ObamaCare—which will supposedly ferret out "unnecessary spending." Is that the same as "waste and abuse"?

Fifteen members will serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. If per capita costs grow by more than GDP plus 0.5%, this board would get more power, including an automatic budget sequester to enforce its rulings. So 15 sages sitting in a room with the power of the purse will evidently find ways to control Medicare spending that no one has ever thought of before and that supposedly won't harm seniors' care, even as the largest cohort of the baby boom generation retires and starts to collect benefits.

Mr. Obama really went off on Mr. Ryan's plan to increase health-care competition and give consumers more control, barely stopping short of calling it murderous. It's hardly beyond criticism or debate, but the Ryan plan is neither Big Rock Candy Mountain nor some radical departure from American norms.

Mr. Obama came out for further cuts in the defense budget, but where? His plan is to ask Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen "to find additional savings," whatever those might be, after a "fundamental review." These mystery cuts would follow two separate, recent rounds of deep cuts that were supposed to stave off further Pentagon triage amid several wars and escalating national security threats.

Mr. Obama rallied the left with a summons for major tax increases on "the rich." Every U.S. fiscal trouble, he claimed, flows from the Bush tax cuts "for the wealthiest 2%," conveniently passing over what he euphemistically called his own "series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs." Apparently he means the $814 billion stimulus that failed and a new multitrillion-dollar entitlement in ObamaCare that harmed job creation.

Under the Obama tax plan, the Bush rates would be repealed for the top brackets. Yet the "cost" of extending all the Bush rates in 2011 over 10 years was about $3.7 trillion. Some $3 trillion of that was for everything but the top brackets—and Mr. Obama says he wants to extend those rates forever. According to Internal Revenue Service data, the entire taxable income of everyone earning over $100,000 in 2008 was about $1.582 trillion. Even if all these Americans—most of whom are far from wealthy—were taxed at 100%, it wouldn't cover Mr. Obama's deficit for this year.

Mr. Obama sought more tax-hike cover under his deficit commission, seeming to embrace its proposal to limit tax deductions and other loopholes. But the commission wanted to do so in order to lower rates for a more efficient and competitive code with a broader base. Mr. Obama wants to pocket the tax increase and devote the revenues to deficit reduction and therefore more spending. So that's three significant tax increases—via higher top brackets, the tax hikes in ObamaCare and fewer tax deductions.

Lastly, Mr. Obama came out for a debt "failsafe," which will require the White House and Congress to hash out a deal if by 2014 projected debt is not declining as a share of the economy. But under his plan any deal must exclude Social Security, Medicare or low-income programs. So that means more tax increases or else "making government smarter, leaner and more effective." Which, now that he mentioned it, sounds a lot like cutting "waste and abuse."

Mr. Obama ludicrously claimed that Mr. Ryan favors "a fundamentally different America than the one we've known throughout most of our history." Nothing is likelier to bring that future about than the President's political indifference in the midst of a fiscal crisis.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's Good for the Goose ...

Obama -

"I just miss - I miss being anonymous," he said at the meeting in the White House. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk."

He says he enjoys golf but is not the fanatic that some have portrayed.

"It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch," he said.

I have no problem witrh this ... BUT, if HE gets this excuse, then the same applies to any Repulican president who played golf or may golf - during war, after war, between wars ... even on the day he starts a war that Congress did not approve and costs us $4 million a day and will not see a major change when we withdraw.

Japan: Honesty before Profit

I want to cry. 

Japanese citizens turning in cash found in tsunami zone

By Kyung Lah
April 10, 2011 9:35 a.m. EDT

Tokyo (CNN) -- A tsunami that followed a massive earthquake last month may have destroyed some of Japan's structures, but police say the honest practice of turning in lost items, especially cash, remains intact.

Residents have turned in lost cash across the tsunami zone at a much higher rate than usual, the Miyagi Prefectural Police Department tells CNN.

A police spokesman, who asked not to be identified, citing department policy, said he could not specify how much cash has been turned in to lost-and-found offices at police stations. But, he said, of the 24 police stations across Miyagi Prefecture, nine of them are on the Pacific coastline.

Between March 12, the day following the earthquake and tsunami, and March 31, those nine police stations collected 10 times the amount of lost cash collected at the other 15 stations combined.

Japanese children, from a young age, are taught to turn in any lost items, including cash, to police stations. The cultural practice of returning lost items and never keeping what belongs to a stranger has meant police departments like Tokyo's Metropolitan have an entire warehouse filled with lost shoes, umbrellas and wallets.

In the tsunami zone, where personal items lie amid miles of rubble, it's meant that lost valuables have often gone directly to police, rather than the pocket of the finder.

The lost cash hasn't been easy to handle, the Miyagi Prefectural Police Department says. Money found along with some identification is being returned, but officers have been able to return only 10% of the cash.

Cash that wasn't in a wallet is left unclaimed at the police station. After three months, the person who turned in the cash is able to collect that lost money. But police say people are already waiving their rights to claim the cash when they turn it in.

Unclaimed cash will eventually be sent to the Miyagi Prefectural Government, though police say they do not know how it will be used.

Also found: Hundreds of safes that can't be opened. If the prefectural government allocates funding for opening the safes, police will start doing so.

Prefectural police believe that these safes could contain not only currency, but bank books, stocks and land deeds, which could give a huge boost to the amount of lost money.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ah ha. Now we know why.

The real reason IKEA is so confusing to navigate

By Michael Bolen
Fri, 8 Apr, 2011

If you've ever spent a Kafkaesque Sunday ambling aimlessly through the labyrinthine interior of an IKEA with frantic thoughts of escape flitting through you mind, we may finally have an explanation for your ordeal.

What seemed like a meaningless exercise in gratuitous brutality was actually a clever sales ploy. That's right, they make it impossible to escape on purpose.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at University College London, recently gave a lecture on why IKEA makes their stores so difficult to navigate.

According to Prof. Penn, getting lost in the store leaves shoppers feeling "licensed to impulse purchase." And the strategy works. Approximately 60 per cent of purchases at IKEA weren't on shoppers' lists.

"By the time you get to the Marketplace [checkout area] you've spent half an hour walking past bedrooms and bathrooms and living rooms and all these things you didn't actually come here for, but getting subliminal messages about what goes with what," Prof. Penn says. "Before long, you've got a trolley full of stuff that are not the things you came there for."

While IKEA is perhaps the most egregious offender when it comes to treating retail like the slots floor at a casino, they are far from alone. Walmart seems to stock their shelves with all the order of a teenager's bedroom floor, and with discount retailer Target set to enter the Canadian market things are only going to become more confusing.

Things could be worse though. Imagine how empty your life would be without heart-shaped miniature ice cubes and that edgy POÄNG armchair.


The FBI is Watching You!

So, check and find out.

The FBI now has a website of previously secret or confidential files, released under FOIA - available for you to search at this site.


Political orientation may be tied to differences in the very structures of our brain!

Your political views are formed in the brain. 

It is true, sometimes you are on an entirely different planet from the person you are talking with, as they are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from you.

Political Views Are Reflected in Brain Structure

Apr. 7, 2011

We all know that people at opposite ends of the political spectrum often really can't see eye to eye. Now, a new report published online on April 7th in Current Biology, reveals that those differences in political orientation are tied to differences in the very structures of our brains.

Individuals who call themselves liberal tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, while those who call themselves conservative have larger amygdalas. Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat, the researchers say.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals. "That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives," he explained.

There had also been many prior psychological reports showing that conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty, while liberals tend to be more open to new experiences. Kanai's team suspected that such fundamental differences in personality might show up in the brain.

And, indeed, that's exactly what they found. Kanai says they can't yet say for sure which came first. It's possible that brain structure isn't set in early life, but rather can be shaped over time by our experiences. And, of course, some people have been known to change their views over the course of a lifetime.

It's also true that our political persuasions can fall into many more categories than liberal and conservative. "In principle, our research method can be applied to find brain structure differences in political dimensions other than the simplistic left- versus right-wingers," Kanai said. Perhaps differences in the brain explain why some people really have no interest in politics at all or why some people line up for Macs while others stick with their PCs. All of these tendencies may be related in interesting ways to the peculiarities of our personalities and in turn to the way our brains are put together.

Still, Kanai cautioned against taking the findings too far, citing many uncertainties about how the correlations they see come about.

"It's very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions," he said. "More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude."

1.Ryota Kanai, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, Geraint Rees. Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. Current Biology, 07 April 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.017


Friday, April 8, 2011

The Evolution of Discrimination and Racism?

Reid is a Fear Monger and a Liar

Liar Liar Liar.

If you think back, please do, to the weeks prior to Obama launching his ill-fated healthcare fiasco.  A health panel for women / cancer, and I forget the specifics although more than likely included in this blog file, recommended women cut back on the frequency of the screenings they receive.  The problem with this, as the dolts on the commission didn't seem to understand, is that if women cut back, the in-between time will be when the cancer will grow and by the time of their visit, it will already be at a stage requiring major medical costs and an increased risk to the woman's life. 

The commission stated that since the incidence of cancer in women was so low, it was not worth the cost to do the testing so often.  Duh.  The reason it was so low you dolts is because THEY GET TESTED SO OFTEN. 

This was in anticipation of the Obama plan which would call for reasonable testing ... which is an odd way of suggesting cut back on the frequency, which is what Obama's health care plan would do, because the cost to the government of women getting tested so often would be tens of millions of dollars each time.

And given these facts, we hear Harry Reid say ...

Reid says Republicans want shutdown to close clinics

11:23am EDT

WASHINGTON, April 8 (Reuters) - Ratcheting up the rhetoric, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Friday said Republicans want to shut down the government because they want to deny funding to women's health clinics.

"Republicans want to shut down the government because they think there's nothing more important than keeping women from getting cancer screenings. This is indefensible and everyone should be outraged," Reid said on the Senate floor.

so disingenuous

democrats l;ie

But they did it respectfully so that makes it ok.

They are juvenile delinquents.  The police should arrerst them as they tresspass onto his property (and tresspass includes the dumping of trash).  And the penalty should be ... work a weekend in DC cleaning up trash.

Facebook event: Let's dump trash at Boehner's pad

By: CNN's Ed Hornick
April 7, 2011

Washington (CNN) - If the federal government shuts down come Friday, House Speaker John Boehner may be in for quite a mess at his Washington, D.C. residence if some Facebook users have their way.

A Facebook event, entitled "If Boehner shuts down the government I am taking my trash to his house," has popped up and is gaining steam as the shutdown showdown ramps up on Capitol Hill. If the federal government shuts down, one of the District's services that will stop is trash pickup.

"Speaker John Boehner is ready to shut down the government, including District of Columbia city services like trash collection," it says on the page. "Well, if he won't allow us to use OUR TAX DOLLARS to pick it up, maybe we should just BRING IT TO HIM."

As of 2:30 p.m. EST there are 1,476 attending; 126 are listed as maybe; 156 aren't showing up; and 4,652 are still making up their minds (much like Congress, apparently).

The trash-a-thon is scheduled for Saturday and apparently will last through June 30.

Organizers of the event - Jonah Goodman and Nolan Treadway - write on the page that even if the government shutdown doesn't occur, they will "move forward with this event, we'll provide details on location(s) and we'll make sure it's done in a sanitary and respectful way. Please don't list any personal addresses for members of Congress on this page."

Goodman is listed in the Democratic National Committee network. Treadway is the political and logistics director for the liberal group Netroots Nation.

House Speaker Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel did not comment to CNN on the group. But he said that "The Speaker has made clear that he wants to cut spending and keep the government open. The House will pass yet another bill to that this afternoon. If the government does shut down, these folks should focus their ire on the Democrats who are actively rooting for a government shutdown, hoping for partisan gain."

Reaction on the page is, like Washington, all over the place.

Amy Lysander: "Do you plan on trashing the yards of the Democrats who are actually causing a shutdown? The House passed a bill to keep the government open. Two of them, actually. The Senate hasn't. Where's Harry Reid's house?"

Diane C. Russell: "Dems controlled Congress completely for 11 months after Obama submitted FY 2011 budget, but FAILED to do their duty and REFUSED to pass any appropriations, either before or after the beginning of the fiscal year."

Brian Devine: "I'll bring some styrofoam from the Hill caf."

Darrin Morgan: "Darn! I just cleaned out my garage. Oh, well. I have some rotten fruit I can throw at the Weeper of the House."


Thursday, April 7, 2011

China WARNS the world.  Don't interfere.

China warns.

Don't even bother to think about interfering, and this is the country some naive foilks want us to believe is 'opening up'.

China warns world not to interfere in artist case

Apr 7, 2011

China warned the international community it had "no right to interfere" in the case of outspoken artist Ai Weiwei, who has been detained for investigation of unspecified economic crimes.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed a state media report that Ai, an avant-garde artist taken into custody in Beijing on Sunday as the government pursues a heavy crackdown on dissent, was the subject of a police probe.

Western governments and rights groups have lined up in support of Ai, who was detained while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong and has not been heard from since, but Beijing signalled it would not tolerate criticism from abroad.

"Ai Weiwei is under investigation on suspicion of economic crimes," Hong told reporters, refusing to comment on the nature of the alleged crimes.

"It has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression," said the spokesman, the first Chinese official to comment on the 53-year-old's case.

"Other countries have no right to interfere."

Ai is merely the latest of dozens of activists and government critics rounded up in clampdown on dissent following online calls for demonstrations in China to emulate the "Jasmine" protests that have rocked the Arab world.

The United States, France, Germany and Britain have joined Amnesty International and other groups in calling for Ai's release, with US ambassador Jon Huntsman defending the artist in a Shanghai speech on Wednesday.

In unusually blunt public comments, Huntsman -- who will soon leave his post -- saluted Ai, jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and others who "challenge the Chinese government to serve the public in all cases and at all times".

China typically uses charges such as subversion to put away government critics, as it did in Liu's case, but has also previously leveled accusations of various economic crimes such as tax-related offences to silence others.

Ai's wife Lu Qing told AFP that she still had no official confirmation from police about the investigation or news on her husband's whereabouts.

"I am waiting for news," an emotional Lu said in a halting voice. "I so far have no information from the authorities about the fate of Ai Weiwei."

Beijing police refused comment when contacted Thursday by AFP.

"Right now it is hard to say what is going on," Ai's attorney Liu Xiaoyuan told AFP.

Police on Sunday also raided the Beijing studio run by Ai -- a burly man with a distinctive wispy beard whose work is currently on display in London's Tate Modern gallery.

The son of a poet revered by China's early Communist leaders, Ai helped design the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games, but has since become a thorn in the government's side.

He probed the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, looked into a Shanghai high-rise fire last November that killed dozens, and says police beat him when he tried to testify on behalf of another activist in 2009.

In January, his newly built Shanghai studio was demolished in apparent retaliation for his criticism of city policies, and a month later said his first large solo exhibit in mainland China was cancelled over political sensitivities.

The Global Times -- a state newspaper with links to the ruling party -- has hit out at Ai in the past two days, calling him a "maverick" who threatened to cross a "red line" of Chinese law.

On Thursday, it said reining in provocative people like Ai was more important that allowing him to speak freely.

The government has been extremely skittish following the mysterious online calls for people to gather each Sunday around China in peaceful demonstrations.

No protests have been reported, but scores of dissidents, activists and rights lawyers have been rounded up in recent weeks.

Ai's mother, Gao Ying, said she believed her son was the victim of trumped-up accusations.

"I don't think this is the reason they have taken him away... Ai Weiwei is not a criminal, he is an artist who is in search of justice," Gao told AFP.

"What has happened is not right. He must have his voice, his work, it is not right that they take him away like this and accuse him of being a criminal."


Obama Rest and Relaxation

But this man just got back from a vacation in Rio and the Aztec and Mayan ruins, and he is off again. 

He is on vacation more than he is in the Oval Office.

Obama, family may visit Williamsburg this weekend

By Bill Bartel
The Virginian-Pilot
© April 8, 2011

If the federal budget stalemate doesn't get in the way, President Barack Obama is planning to visit Colonial Williamsburg this weekend with the first lady, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha.

The White House said in a statement Thursday that it is a "long-planned family trip."

"The president's priority is working with members of Congress from both parties to avoid a government shutdown," the statement said. The family's plans will change if an agreement is not reached.

Obama is negotiating with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass a budget bill in time to avoid a shutdown at midnight Friday.

Jim Bradley, communications manager for Colonial Williamsburg, said he had not received any information about a presidential visit and referred information requests to the White House.

James Perry, public affairs officer for nearby Historic Jamestowne and the Yorktown Battlefield - collectively called the Colonial National Historical Park - also said officials had not received any information about a possible visit by the Obamas.

But if the government shuts down on Friday night, Perry said, no one will be visiting.

Should Congress not reach a spending deal, the National Park Service office told park managers, they are not to open on Saturday and must remain closed until funding is set.

obama vacation

Meltdown in Mexico: The Mass Graves Continue

Mexico Finds 59 in Mass Grave

By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Apr 7, 2011
6:23 AM CDT

(NEWSER) – A series of mass graves in northern Mexico have yielded at least 59 bodies in a particularly grim finding in a bloody region. Police arrested 11 men on the scene and freed five people still being held hostage, reports the Wall Street Journal; the dead are thought to include a group kidnapped on a Mexican highway earlier this year, likely for ransom. Police found eight graves on the rural ranch, the largest of which contained 43 people.

President Felipe Calderon, whose drug war has claimed a numbing 35,000 lives in five years, blasted the slayings as an act of "cowardice" that points to the "total lack of conscience with which criminal organizations operate." The town of San Fernando was also the scene of the murder of 72 immigrants last August, and has increasingly skidded, along with Tamaulipas state, into lawlessness as drug gangs run rampant. State government is "completely paralyzed," says one expert.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Obama: Burning Bridges, Destroying Alliances

One must wonder - even the most ardent Obama supporter, what is he doing? 

Not that we should capitulate to any oil state, nor should we be bowing to their despotic leaders, but ... to so undermine our credibility and worth, that these states look elsewhere for economic investments ...

NBC’s Brokaw: Saudis ‘So Unhappy' With Obama They Sent Emissaries to China, Russia Seeking Enhanced Ties

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
By Susan Jones

( – Reporting from Baghdad, Iraq yesterday, NBC’s Tom Brokaw said the Saudi Arabian monarchy is “so unhappy with the Obama administration for the way it pushed out President Mubarak of Egypt” that it has sent senior officials to the Peoples' Republic of China and Russia to seek expanded business opportunities with those countries.

After remarking on the difficulty of establishing democracy in the Middle East, Brokaw said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates “will face some tough questions in this region about the American intentions going on now with all this new turmoil, especially in an area where the United States has such big stakes politically and economically.”

“And a lot of those questions presumably will come from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” reported Brokaw on the Nightly News. “I was told on the way in here that the Saudis are so unhappy with the Obama administration for the way it pushed out President Mubarak of Egypt that it sent high level emissaries to China and Russia to tell those two countries that Saudi Arabia now is prepared to do more business with them.”

Brokaw continued, “Back here in Iraq, the political and the economic situation remains fragile. So fragile that the U.N. secretary general is worried that this country could now see massive protests in the streets once again.”

Earlier in his report, Brokaw noted that while U.S. military forces are supposed to leave Iraq at year’s end, the U.S. Embassy staff was being beefed-up from 8,000 to nearly 20,000 personnel.

[That last bit is interesting - we remove 10-12,000 troops and with the switcheroo, the numbers remain static.  Yet, we can call it a reduction.  Mighty big embassy!]


Monday, April 4, 2011

Iran's Meddling

Realized and recognized as contributing in large part to the problems of destabilization in the Middle East, Iran casts the long shadow.  It does so with little regard for internal divisions within Iran, for the ultimate outcome is to leave Iran as a regional power and the Arab states neutered.   Ali wins finally.

It is as old as the Bible - hate and animosity, feelings of betrayal and jealousy.  Now, finally, the shi'a stand on the edge of regional power with a severely weakened Arab state, in a defensive position. 

The Arab dictators have known this for the last two months, some have whispered it, several intelligence journals have written about the concerns and suggested it possible, but mainstream media has not picked up on this because they are too busy with Obama flip-flopping, Charlie Sheen, Japan, and now nuclear meltdown.  Ideas such as this are far too complicated for most journalists and not easily conveyed in a thirty second blurb to a world population unable to concentrate beyond 10 seconds.  Plus, admitting this places most European press at a severe disadvantage - they have long claimed the US reigned supreme in the area of wreaking havoc and destabilizing regimes.  If they admit now that Iran has and is doing so, they undermine the emotional charge attached to charges of American intrigue.  In effect, they undermine many charges they have leveled over the years.

Much easier to pretend it is all Israel.   Syria knows it is Iran, although they do not speak of it directly because of the fear of Hezbollah.  The Arab states are now at a weakened stage allowing Iran to become a regional control partner - one they will show deference and respect to, as they do to the US.

Gulf states denounce Iran's meddling

Apr 4, 2011
Agence France Presse

Gulf Arab monarchies including Saudi Arabia denounced Iran's "flagrant interference" in regional affairs and said Tehran was destabilising their countries, at a ministerial meeting overnight Saturday.

GCC foreign ministers said in a statement they were "deeply worried about continuing Iranian meddling" in their region.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, the GCC groups Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

At their meeting they accused Tehran of plotting against GCC countries' national security and fanning sedition and religious disputes among their citizens.

Tehran was also "violating the sovereignty" of members of the regional grouping.

The GCC meeting came after the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee said Thursday that "Saudi Arabia should know it's better not to play with fire in the sensitive region of the Persian Gulf".

But the conservative Sunni monarchy on Sunday slammed what it described as an "irresponsible" statement containing "void allegations and blatant offense against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

The Iranian statement "fuels sectarianism," the Saudi Consultative Council had said according to state news agency SPA.

Saudi Arabia led a joint Gulf force that entered Bahrain last month, enabling authorities to quell a month-long, Shiite-led protest demanding democratic reforms in the kingdom.


Campaign in truth and govern the same way

Campaign in Poetry, Govern in Prose ...

And we all understand that, the reality ... or, some of us do.  Liberals apparently do not because they really really believed him - after all, the war in Iraq would be over, we would be out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo would be closed, and the US would restore the rights to poor and unfortunate individuals detained illegally by US forces.  The above sentence summed up the over riding attitude of liberals, of those who opposed Bush and their reasons for supporting an inexperienced state legislator who turned US Senator for five minutes before running for president.

So ... where are we today.  Well, we should look at what Obamaessiah had to say about Guantanamo and the US actions toward the murderers held in the palace of prisons in Guantanamo.

So what exactly did candidate Obama say in 2008 when it came to trying accused terrorists?

First, he was going to close Guantanamo, calling it an ineffective "legal black hole:"   [For anyone keeping track - didn't happen]

"By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been a failure. Over the course of nearly seven years, there has not been a single conviction for a terrorist act at Guantanamo. There has just been one conviction for material support of terrorism," he said in June of 2008. "Meanwhile, this legal black hole has substantially set back America's ability to lead the world against the threat of terrorism, and undermined our most basic values. But make no mistake: we are less safe because of the way George Bush has handled this issue."

Then, he was going to restore habeas corpus rights to alleged terrorists [0 for 2]:

"Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy. We cannot afford to lose any more valuable time in the fight against terrorism to a dangerously flawed legal approach," he also said in June of 2008.

Promising to return America to the "moral high ground" in the war on terrorism, Obama issued a high profile executive order in his first official day as president that required the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year. [0 for 3]

obama the useless

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Foreign Banks taking US Taxpayers Money

Routine banking!  It was just routine banking.  First, forget 'routine' ... the world economic system collapsed - nothing after such a catastrophic collapse that brings a half dozen countries to bankruptcy is 'routine', and certainly not when the American people are subsidizing foreign countries.  Our debt to China may well be subsidized by China, not at the permission of the American people, and not agreed to by the American people - but promulgated by politicians who want to be elected and promise us things we cannot afford.  Americans, being creatures of little thought, elect these twits.  In any case - we should not be providing $1 to any of these foreign states.  Let them sink. 

Foreign Banks Tapped Fed’s Secret Lifeline Most at Crisis Peak

By Bradley Keoun and Craig Torres
Apr 1, 2011

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s two-year fight to shield crisis-squeezed banks from the stigma of revealing their public loans protected a lender to local governments in Belgium, a Japanese fishing-cooperative financier and a company part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya.

Dexia SA (DEXB), based in Brussels and Paris, borrowed as much as $33.5 billion through its New York branch from the Fed’s “discount window” lending program, according to Fed documents released yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc, taken over in 2007 by a German real-estate lender later seized by the German government, drew $24.5 billion.

The biggest borrowers from the 97-year-old discount window as the program reached its crisis-era peak were foreign banks, accounting for at least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion borrowed during the week in October 2008 when use of the program surged to a record. The disclosures may stoke a reexamination of the risks posed to U.S. taxpayers by the central bank’s role in global financial markets.

“The caricature of the Fed is that it was shoveling money to big New York banks and a bunch of foreigners, and that is not conducive to its long-run reputation,” said Vincent Reinhart, the Fed’s director of monetary affairs from 2001 to 2007.

Commercial Paper

Separate data disclosed in December on temporary emergency- lending programs set up by the Fed also showed big foreign banks as borrowers. Six European banks were among the top 11 companies that sold the most debt overall -- a combined $274.1 billion -- to the Commercial Paper Funding Facility.

Those programs also loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley. (MS)

The discount window, which began lending in 1914, is the Fed’s primary program for providing cash to banks to help them avert a liquidity squeeze. In an April 2009 speech, Bernanke said that revealing the names of discount-window borrowers “might lead market participants to infer weakness.”

The Fed released the documents after court orders upheld FOIA requests filed by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, and News Corp.’s Fox News Network LLC. In all, the Fed released more than 29,000 pages of documents, covering the discount window and several Fed emergency-lending programs established during the crisis from August 2007 to March 2010.

Public Outrage

“The American people are going to be outraged when they understand what has been going on,” U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Fed, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“What in the world are we doing thinking we can pass out tens of billions of dollars to banks that are overseas?” said Paul, who has advocated abolishing the Fed. “We have problems here at home with people not being able to pay their mortgages, and they’re losing their homes.”

David Skidmore, a Fed spokesman, declined to comment. Fed officials have said all the discount window loans made during the worst financial crisis since the 1930s have been repaid with interest.

The Monetary Control Act of 1980 says that a U.S. branch or agency of a foreign bank that maintains reserves at a Fed bank may receive discount-window credit.

“Our job is to provide liquidity to keep the American economy going,” Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve’s regional bank in Dallas, told reporters today. “The loans were all paid back and they were well-collateralized.”

Wachovia’s Loans

Wachovia Corp. was the only U.S. bank among the top five discount-window borrowers as the crisis peaked.

The company, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, borrowed $29 billion from the discount window on Oct. 6, in the week after it almost collapsed, the data show. Wachovia agreed in principle to sell itself to Citigroup Inc. on Sept. 29, before announcing a definitive agreement to sell itself to Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) on Oct. 3. The Wells Fargo deal closed at the end of 2008.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Mary Eshet declined to comment on Wachovia’s discount-window borrowing.

Bank of Scotland Plc, which had $11 billion outstanding from the discount window on Oct. 29, 2008, was a unit of Edinburgh-based HBOS Plc, which announced its takeover by London-based Lloyds TSB Group Plc in September 2008.

The borrowings in 2008 didn’t involve Lloyds, which hadn’t completed its acquisition of HBOS at the time, said Sara Evans, a spokeswoman for the company, which is now called Lloyds Banking Group Plc. (LLOY)

‘Historic’ Use

“This is historic usage and on each occasion the borrowing was repaid at maturity,” Evans said. “The discount window has not been accessed by the group since.”

Other foreign discount-window borrowers on Oct. 29, 2008, included Societe Generale (GLE) SA, France’s second-biggest bank; and Norinchukin Bank, which finances and provides services to Japanese agricultural, fishing and forestry cooperatives. Paris- based Societe Generale borrowed $5 billion that day, and Tokyo- based Norinchukin borrowed $6 billion.

Jim Galvin, a spokesman for Societe Generale, declined to comment.

“We used it in concert with Japanese and U.S. authorities in the purpose of contributing to the stabilization of the market,” said Fumiaki Tanaka, a spokesman at Norinchukin.

Bank of China

Bank of China, the country’s oldest bank, was the second- largest borrower from the Fed’s discount window during a nine- day period in August 2007 as subprime-mortgage defaults first roiled broader markets. The Chinese bank’s New York branch borrowed $198 million on Aug. 17 of that month.

“It was just routine borrowing,” said Dale Zhu, head of the Bank of China New York branch’s treasury.

Two Deutsche Bank AG divisions borrowed $1 billion each, according to a document released yesterday.

Arab Banking Corp., then 29 percent-owned by the Libyan central bank, used its New York branch to get at least 73 loans from the Fed in the 18 months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed. The largest single loan amount outstanding was $1.2 billion in July 2009, according to the Fed documents.

The foreign banks took advantage of Fed lending programs even as their host countries moved to prop them up or orchestrate takeovers.

Dexia received billions of euros in capital and funding guarantees from France, Belgium and Luxembourg during the credit crunch.

‘High-Quality’ Collateral

The Fed loans were “secured by high-quality U.S. dollar municipal securities,” and used only to fund U.S. loans, bonds and other financial assets, Ulrike Pommee, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail.

“The Fed played its role as central banker, providing liquidity to banks that needed it,” she said, adding that Dexia’s outstanding balance at the Fed has been reduced to zero. “This information is backward-looking.”

Depfa was taken over in October 2007 by Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, which in turn was seized by the German government in 2009.

“Since the end of May 2010, Depfa is not making use of the Federal Reserve Discount Window,” Oliver Gruss, a spokesman for the bank, said in an e-mailed statement. He declined to comment further.

Dollar Assets

Many foreign banks own large pools of dollar assets -- bonds, securities and loans -- funded by short-term borrowings in money markets. The system works when markets are calm, said Dino Kos, former executive vice president at the New York Fed in charge of open-market operations. In times of stress, banks can be subject to sudden liquidity squeezes, he said.

“They are playing with fire,” said Kos, a managing director at Hamiltonian Associates Ltd. in New York, an economic research firm. “When the market dries up, and they can’t roll over their funding -- bingo, you have a liquidity crisis.”

The potential for dollar shortages remains. As the Greek fiscal crisis roiled financial markets last year, the Fed had to open swap lines with the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, the Bank of England and two other central banks to make more dollars available around the world. That move was partially the result of U.S. money market funds shrinking their exposure to European bank commercial paper.


US Response in Libya and Ivory Coast

The US response in Libya - we have slowly pulled back, leaving Europe to handle the issues.  What Samantha Power said was a necessary act to save lives, must now be unnec essary since so many innocent people are being shot and bombed.  The US has slowly begun extricatingitself from Libya although we are still concerned.  I suppose, in anticipation of a political statement from Obama this coming week.

The US response to the Ivory Coast .... we are deeply concerned.

The US response to events in Bosnia .... we are concerned.


Obama: Fecklessness Galore - UN backs Genocidaire?

Who is responsible?  One thing we can count on, anytime a genocide is occuring or has occured, the perpetrators always blame someone else for all the bodies littering the cities, road, fields ...

What is Samantha Power doing at this moment?  She was a vociferous advocate (in her book) for US intervention in Rwanda ...

Charges fly in killings of 1,000 in Ivorian town

Apr 3, 6:06 AM EDT

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- The United Nations and the government it supports in embattled Ivory Coast are trading accusations over the killings of hundreds of civilians in a western town.

The U.N. accused hunters fighting in a force to install democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara of "extra-judicial executions" of more than 330 people in Duekoue.

Ouattara's government Saturday night accused U.N. peacekeepers of abandoning civilians there to vengeful militiamen fighting for incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to accept his election defeat.

The Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1,000 were killed over three days last week in one Duekoue neighborhood controlled by pro-Ouattara forces. Caritas said they did not know who did the killing.


Obama: Dithering while the world Burns (Ivory Coast 1)

There are many adult decisions that should have been made by this time, many that need to be made now, and many more that need to be made within hours and days.  Obama does not make decisions.  He waits and thinks, as anyone who has gone to graduate school or law school remembers - rash decisions are not promoted, clear thinking, slow, seemingly laborious decisions, well-thought out, evaluated, discussed - those ideas and those decisions are beneficial (to everyone but the thousands and hundreds of thousands who happen to be dead).

Ivory Coast: aid workers find 1,000 bodies in Duekoue

The single biggest atrocity in the long battle for control of Ivory Coast has emerged after aid workers discovered the bodies of up to 1,000 people in the town of Duekoue.

By Aislinn Laing
2 Apr 2011
The London Telegraph

Charity workers who reached Duekoue said it appeared the killings had taken place in a single day, shortly after the town fell to troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the man internationally-recognised as having won last year’s presidential election.

The apparent massacre came despite the presence of United Nations troops and - if confirmed - will cast a shadow over Mr Outtara’s assumption of the Ivory Coast’s presidency after a four-month battle to oust Lawrence Gbagbo, the former president who lost the November election but refused to step down.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “gravely concerned” by the violence and loss of life in Ivory Coast and added: “I am determined that all alleged human rights abuses... must be investigated and those responsible held to account.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said its staff discovered more than 800 bodies of people who were clearly local civilians. They were mainly men who had been shot and left where they fell, the organisation said, either alone or in small groups dotted around the town, which lies at the heart of Ivory Coast’s economically crucial cocoa producing region.

Patrick Nicholson, a spokesman for the Catholic charity Caritas, said his team had counted 1,000 bodies, adding that some had been hacked with machetes. The UN said that it already logged 430 killed in Duekoue and was still investigating reports of more dead in the town.

Fighting in the country’s economic capital, Abidjan, appeared to be reaching a bloody climax and there were predictions that the compound occupied by Mr Gbagbo and what remains of his entourage would be overrun within the next 24 hours.

Even though most of Mr Gbagbo’s military chiefs have abandoned him in the past week, allowing Mr Ouattara’s forces to take control of most of the country and lay siege to his powerbase in Abidjan, the 65 year-old strongman remained defiant, with friends saying he would rather die than admit defeat.

Mr Ouattara has instructed that Mr Gbabgo be taken alive if possible, to ensure that is made to answer publicly for his refusal to step down from power, leading to the deaths of 492 people on both sides even before the Duekoue killings.

Kelnor Panglungtshang, a spokesman for ICRC, said its workers were struggling to keep the newly-discovered bodies in a condition to be identified by their families - a task made harder because the town’s mortuary has been looted in the lawlessness left in the wake of the conquering forces.

“Our colleagues on the ground are doing their best but it’s a horrific situation,” he said. “One very experienced colleague says he’s never seen anything like it.”

The charity said it had been told by locals that intercommunal violence erupted soon after Mr Ouattara’s forces took control of the town on Monday. Thousands of people left their homes to escape the fighting and an estimated 40,000 sought refuge in a nearby Roman Catholic mission’s compound. The priests who operate it are running short of food, clean water and medical equipment to treat those they say arrived with gunshot wounds.

The bodies are thought to be of those who did not reach sanctuary in time. They were killed despite 200 United Nations troops operating what it said were “robust” patrols from its base on the outskirts to protect civilians in and around the church.

Hamadoun Toure, the UN spokesman in Ivory Coast, said it had warned both sides fighting in the town that they would be held responsible for any atrocities committed, but said UN troops “were not aware” that civilians were being attacked and killed.

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer and as the gateway to the crop’s heartlands, Duekoue was a strategically vital prize. But there are historic tensions between nationalistic Ivory Coast natives and those descended from people seen as “foreign” settlers, mostly from neighbouring African countries, who originated in the north.

Mr Gbagbo’s support came from the more nationalistic south; but Mr Ouattara, himself the son of immigrants, won 54 per cent of votes cast in an election which was internationally judged to be broadly fair.

Some victims in Duekoue appear to have been killed by mercenaries from nearby Liberia, reported to have been fighting for both Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ouattara.

The Ouattara camp has urgently tried to distance itself from involvement in any of the new deaths. A spokesman said the government “firmly rejects accusations and denies any involvement” in possible abuses. It said it had found mass graves in towns near to Duekoue “whose authors are none other than the loyal forces, mercenaries and militias of Laurent Gbagbo”.

Apollinaire Yapi, an advisor in Mr Ouattara’s camp, said his troops had been warned not to engage in revenge attacks. But he conceded that he could not rule out the possibility of some excesses.

“We have a duty to protect civilians and it is because of that duty that we have taken military action to remove Mr Gbagbo,” he said. “If there are some people among us who are responsible for any breach of the law, they will be punished. We have to investigate exactly what happened.”

Mr Ouattara’s forces continued to attack Mr Gbagbo’s residence and the presidential palace in Abidjan after entering the city on Thursday.

Despite losing the support of military chiefs in recent days, he retains the backing of the Republican Guard and students recruited to the army in recent weekends by his militant youth leader, Charles Ble Goude.

On Friday they seized back the state broadcaster from Mr Ouattara’s forces and today broadcast an appeal for more soldiers to join them for what may prove their final stand.

Heavy gun battles between the two sides has resulted in most of Abidjan’s five million residents being too terrified to leave their homes to replenish their now dwindling supplies of food and fuel. Those who did so last week found themselves threatened and shot at by violent looters.

Henry Gray, a field coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontiers in Abidjan, said one hospital in the city treated 50 people suffering with gunshot wounds on Friday.

He and his colleagues have been trapped in their office. “We had been moving around visiting clinics until a few days ago, but the situation on the streets has deteriorated to such an extent that it’s just become too dangerous to go outside.”

Mr Yapi predicted that Mr Gbagbo would be captured shortly and put the delay down to Mr Ouattara’s insistence that he be taken alive, and for civilian casualties to be kept to a minimum.

“We don’t want to kill the man, he must be tried for all he has done,” he said. “If he dies, he becomes a martyr. Our goal is to capture him alive.”

Guy Labertit, one of Mr Gbagbo’s closest friends and a member of France’s Socialist Party, said he had spoken to him on Thursday and he had made clear he would not leave.

“He will not resign and he will not come out alive,” he said.


Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

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