Sunday, December 21, 2014

The dream of a bibliophile

The library is a massive domed building of wood and brick, located on the Kansas prairie many miles away from any other structure.

I have come to this place because I know that this library carries a copy of THE book, the one I have sought for many years. No, not the Bible. Not any religious text. It is simply THE book, the one that makes all other books superfluous. I've always told myself that I am one of the few people capable of finding this work and reading it.

The library is a marvelous maze, filled with shelves and desks made of beautifully carved and polished wood. And the books! No other library has such books. Splendid oversize volumes with illustrations by artists I have never heard of before. Biographies of amazing individuals whose names were previously unfamiliar to me. Books of mystery. Mystery after mystery. It is all mesmerizing.

This library seems to carry the entire culture (and popular culture) of some rich and wonderful parallel Earth. One can lose oneself forever in these books.

But then I remember: Somewhere in this library, in a room at the center of the maze, is THE book. The shadows are lengthening; the sky outside is turning gold. Closing time will come soon.

So I wander further into the maze. Around every corner, there are more books. These new discoveries are even more entrancing than the ones in the preceding rooms.

Another test. Well, it wouldn't do any harm to linger here a bit... And linger I do, until I can summon the willpower to go forward again.

Finally, I find it: The great room at the center, the one that contains THE book.

My goal. I'm here. I'm about to enter the room....

A librarian taps my shoulder.

Closing time. You have to go.

I must have lost track of the time. Just one more minute...?

No. You have to go RIGHT NOW.

An instant later, I am being being driven away in a car. (Driven by whom? I don't know.) I am looking back at the great wooden dome as it catches the last golden rays of sunlight. You can came back, I tell myself. On your next visit, you won't be distracted. You'll go straight to the room at the center.

But this is a lie. One visits this library only once.

I have had this dream many times, in many forms. In one variant, the library was a small used bookstore in a rural location -- a bookstore that somehow contained dozens of rooms, and of course the place closed just before I could reach the room in the back. On another occasion, I was lost in a dream version of the Library of Congress -- a vast, cavernous complex that ran underneath much of the east coast (and which bore no resemblance to the real Library of Congress).

The dream, in all of its variations, needs no interpretation, since the metaphor is obvious. Or so I thought until recently. I now think that this fable can be viewed more than one way.

The obvious interpretation: The library's holdings are a trap -- a seemingly infinite number of gaudy diversions, hypnotically fascinating but ultimately useless. Those other books exist for the sole purpose of keeping most members of the human race from reaching the room with THE book.

The second interpretation: We have no proof of THE book's existence. As far as anyone knows, THE book is just a myth. The reader who becomes obsessed with this myth commits a great crime against himself (or herself), because time is precious, and the building closes earlier than most people realize. Wouldn't it be better to spend every possible mmoment with the beautiful and enchanting holdings of the world's most marvelous library? Why waste one minute chasing something that probably does not exist?

Those two interpretations are the two ways of living life.
And then:
Joseph, if you're talking about a real, specific book (circa 1964), I'm on the case, but so far: nothing. In the meantime, thanks for mentioning libraries. In a movie script I wrote last year, on spec, for my bigshot director friend (you know who), the heroes were librarians. In 1980, I worked at Doheny library at USC. (I'm sure you know the place. It subbed for U.C. Berkeley in a lovely dissolve shot in "The Graduate.") My departnment processed book and manuscript donations. I once held in my hands the actual set-design sketches for the silent, expressionist masterpiece "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." In those days, I was a larcenous scalawag, but I knew it would be sacrilege to pocket those drawings. Carry on, Sherlock.
That's a great post, Mr. C.!
I wish I had a dollar for every hour I have spent in a library. And ten cents for each hour I have spent browsing the internet, searching.... searching, for something I know not what. But when I find it, I know I will be in a state of bliss, intoxicated as it were, with an over-abundace of more useless information!


I submitted this post using a Wifi connection here at a library. LOL!
TJ, the book you're talking about is not THE book. (All others: I'm making cryptic reference to a vanished JFK assassination book that TJ and I have discussed offline. 1965, not 1964.) Turns out there are two libraries in this country that have copies of that book. One of them -- in Oregon -- will make a scan, for a price. I'm very poor (what with the season and all) so the copying must wait a while.

Ivan: I loved that Borges story when I first read it -- god, so many years ago....

Joseph, I'm pretty sure that if you drink two bottles of cheap wine and a six-pack of cheap beer at night you will not have such troubling dreams. Glad that I could help.

Very cool, Joseph. Borges was the first thing I thought of, too! Well, except for the two times I've been locked in a library after it closed. The first time I was in fourth or fifth grade, and wandered away from my brother's scout meeting to reread my favorite book, The Owl Service. The second time, much later on, I can't remember what so mesmerized me, but I went unnoticed and had no clue of the hour till the lights went out.
How interesting. In many of my dreams I'm searching for something, but never a book that I remember. In the time you become sidetracked examining all the other fascinating books, are you reading them?... actually turning and examining pages of text for meaning? I have read that humans do not read in their dreams. That one way to determine if you are in a dream state, is to read a headline, or a line of text, and then look back at it a second time to see if it still reads the same.

Would you be interested in emailing or calling me? I could provide you my email and/or phone number in a follow up comment that you can decline to approve (for my privacy's sake, since you have moderate the comments). I am willing to foot the bill and take care of the costs for having the library in Oregon make a copy of the book, we can discuss the details in email or you can call me. Once I have the library make a copy (or two), I will share it with you and send you a copy. I am happy and willing to help a fellow NDD (New Deal Democrat) like myself.
Jay, I's like very much to accept your kind offer as a Christmas present.

There's really no need for secrecy here. The book I'm looking for is called "The Plot to Kill JFK," 1965, by one David M. Warren. The book is now of the utmost rarity. I've never met anyone who owns a copy -- and I've met a few specialist collectors.

The book was published by a very sleazy paperback publishing house out of Chicago called Novel Books, which went out of business in the 1970s. Novel Books (which had a number of other imprints) published mostly soft-core porn and may have been linked to the mob.

My interest in this work comes down to these three points:

1. David Warren is a pseudonym. There is a rumor that the real author was convicted Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, who, as you may know, published a number of sleazy spy novels in the 1960s, which were written under various pseudonyms. His son's name was David.

2. There is another rumor that the novel contains the names of then-active CIA officers -- names that would not have been known to the general public.

3. Art Ford -- the columnist and radio personality who starred in the "Art Ford's Jazz Party" video clip embedded a few posts down -- was a researcher into the assassination, although he kept his interest in the case very hush-hush. He was told by a source that "The Plot to Kill JFK" contained important information about what really happened.

There's more, including links to the bizarre Kerry Thornley and to a very shady character who is still alive and living in Florida.

I should stress that I do NOT know whether there is any truth to rumors 1 and 2, although Ford's interest in the book is verifiable. It seems to me that the first step in establishing authorship would be to get hold of the text itself.

I do know that the CIA and FBI did take some interest in this book. That's a long story.

Perhaps the only library copy may be found in the library of Oregon State University. I've already communicated with them. Given the rarity of the work, and the fact that copyright has expired, they have agreed to make scans of the work for .25 cents a page. If you write to me at the Yandex address above, I can give you the name and email address of the person to contact.

If they make scans, they should be able to send them directly to you via email. (The modern scanning machines in libraries are pretty wonderful!) If they send the email to you, you can send a copy to me.

Hell -- why not put the whole thing online?

One more thing: The book was a "twofer" -- a bizarre arrangement that isn't used nowadays. Basically, there's a completely unrelated novella called "Summer of Want" (by a female author) sharing covers with "The Plot to Kill JFK." We need only the part about JFK, plus the covers and indicia and so forth. That should be only about 70 pages; no need to pay for more.

I am not under the delusion that this small, strange book will solve the case. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if the whole thing turns out to be a red herring. But -- well, you know how it is. When a mystery gets hold of you, you want to pursue it.

Thanks again!
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Saturday, December 20, 2014


What the hell, Greenpeace? Seriously, what the hell? Who considered this a good idea?

"What do we want? Dead cops." A guy shot his girlfriend in Baltimore, then -- understanding that his days were numbered -- traveled up to New York and took out a couple of New York, killing himself soon after. He seems to have killed the police officers as a protest against the Michael Brown and Eric Garner outrages.

From the Moderate Voice blog:
Many protesters in past days were involved in shouting “What do we want?” The answer to same was: “Dead cops.”
Nobody will claim that a vengeance killing of this sort is morally justified. But before we enter into an argument over morality, let's talk physics. As in: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." The grand questions of right and wrong, justifiable versus non-justifiable, good tactics vs. bad tactics -- all of these are questions we must debate. But first and foremost, we have to understand the physics involved here..

Sony hack alternatives. While most of the mainstream media has gone along with the FBI's assessment, some still question the "blame North Korea" theory. For example:
1. The broken English looks deliberately bad and doesn’t exhibit any of the classic comprehension mistakes you actually expect to see in “Konglish”. i.e it reads to me like an English speaker pretending to be bad at writing English.

2. The fact that the code was written on a PC with Korean locale & language actually makes it less likely to be North Korea. Not least because they don’t speak traditional “Korean” in North Korea, they speak their own dialect and traditional Korean is forbidden. This is one of the key things that has made communication with North Korean refugees difficult. I would find the presence of Chinese far more plausible.
It’s clear from the hard-coded paths and passwords in the malware that whoever wrote it had extensive knowledge of Sony’s internal architecture and access to key passwords.
The attackers only latched onto “The Interview” after the media did – the film was never mentioned by GOP right at the start of their campaign. It was only after a few people started speculating in the media that this and the communication from DPRK “might be linked” that suddenly it became linked.
Framing a nation that nobody likes is a great way of deflecting investigators.

Also see here:
So far, all that I have seen personally posted online and in the news that counts as “evidence” has been inferential and certainly not worth spit in a court of law, never mind even in a mock court taking place in a 5th grade classroom!
If you need a detailed chronology of events, try this. Here's an interesting point:
All analysis to date suggests the malware was not unique to Sony, and may have been used several times before. Trying to suggest that malware that evades “industry-standard antivirus software” is “unprecedented” is ridiculous. Antivirus software routinely fails to identify malware due to the archaic signature-based model they use.
I would like to offer a new suspect: Someone in the corporate security industry. I'm not saying that HBGary/ManTech did it...but: Do you remember when we found out that HBGary was using the free AVG antivirus on their own computers, even though they were selling their own anti-Malware protection to corporate clients for huge amounts of money? Some people suspected a scam. Some people -- not me, mind you, but some people -- suspected that HBGary simply repackaged a standard antivirus and sold it to corporate clients as something big, important, powerful and expensive.

Who benefits from the Sony hack? Well, one possible beneficiary would be the first company who approaches Sony and says these words: "Your previous approach to security was pathetic. We can protect you. We have proprietary methods that go far beyond standard measures. But it's gonna cost you..."
Nobody will claim that a vengeance killing of this sort is morally justified

Really? Because it seems to me that an awful lot of armchair revolutionaries have been calling for exactly that. For example, I can recall one who recently wrote:

Until the cops stop functioning as a hyper-mafia, they should be treated the same way the heroic Vietnamese treated French and American soldiers.


That sounds precisely like a call for just this sort of "vengeance killing" to me, Joseph. Is this not what you had in mind? If not, what were you thinking of when you said people should treat police "the same way the heroic Vietnamese treated French and American soldiers". My recollection of that "treatment" was that it was pretty violent indeed - is this not what your had in mind when you wrote those words?
Cop shootings? "God is dead and the war's begun".

Hack attack?
Probably further up the food chain, like the Rand Corp. that convinced Sony to have a very violent death for NK VIP.
Smacks of another color revolution. I quote a great article from here:
On November 26, you wrote:

"...Jurors and other citizens should do everything possible to make the lives of cops miserable. A cop's kid should be spat on every single day he goes to school. Cops should wake up to see paint buckets emptied on their cars...

...Do not waste your time with protest. Rebel. First, history tells us that the most effective forms of rebellion are planned events, done in cold blood."

You got what you wanted, Joe. All you need now is for someone to spit on the families at the funerals.
I hope you libs and your anti police frenzy are happy. You people are absolutely sick for both hating police (based on ignorance and lies) and stirring this up.
Am wrong or the cop killer killed his girl friend first before the cops. So his act in my opinion has nothing to do with any protest. Just a killer in spree and tried to give a name. Beside the killing of brown and garner shouldn't just go without consequences. I have no idea what that maybe but still calling for justice is never wrong.
You are wrong.

The ex-girlfriend was shot, but she is still alive. It was her mother who told Baltimore police about the "pigs in a blanket/pigs with wings/they take one of ours, we take two of theirs" Instagram posts.

The killer told the world his motive before he committed his planned, cold-blooded act of rebellion. He told us that his act is directly connected to the protests.

Calling for justice may never be wrong, but random, senseless "revenge" killings are, as is murderous domestic violence. The entitlement of the miscreant scumbag Ismaaiyl Brinsley knew no bounds.

You are, however, entitled to your "opinion", misinformed as it may be.

While Cannon tries to find a bottle of mouthwash strong enough to remove the taste of his own toe jam from his mouth, I would like to make an observation.

If the cops were murdered as a revolutionary act, it was a foolish and ineffective tactic.

The people of the law enforcement agencies and the armed forces are not the Enemy.

They are slaves of the Enemy.

Warrior-slaves (janissaries), but still slaves.

The Enemy can always get more slaves where those came from.

The Enemy is the 1%, or to use the fine old term, the Malefactors Of Great Wealth.

I do not recommend revolution. Leaving ethical issues aside for now, I simply do not know of any "successful" revolution which did not merely replace the old oligarchy of glorified criminals with a new oligarchy of glorified criminals (See every Communist revolution ever for details).

Why unleash all that suffering and premature death for nothing?

"Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss"--the Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
The cops gratuitously stomp on pet parakeets and pummel children. Shoot kids dead. Blast babies. All because they are in such "fear" for their lives. There's been another cop shot in Florida now. And they think their lives are worth so much more than kids' lives?

I see it as "we'll give you something to be afraid of."
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Hack attack

The FBI -- putting its rep on the line -- says that North Korea is definitely fer sure behind that Great Sony Hack Attack. Yet North Korea says not only that they didn't do it, but that they want to join with the US in a joint effort to uncover the real culprit. Of course, that will never happen -- especially since NK feels compelled to word their invite in a very uninviting fashion:
"If the U.S. refuses to accept our proposal for a joint investigation and continues to talk about some kind of response by dragging us into the case, it must remember there will be grave consequences," the spokesman said.
That kind of talk is not a way to make new friends. And certainly not the best way to allay suspicions.

Here is the FBI's evidence against NK:
The FBI said the malware "revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed."

Further, the FBI noticed "significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea." For instance, the FBI said several IP addresses with "known North Korean infrastructure" communicated with IP addresses "hardcoded" into the malware that ripped through Sony's systems, deleting data and swiping sensitive information and rendering thousands of computers inoperable.

The FBI also said the "tools" used in the attack are similar to those in a North Korea-led attack against South Korean banks and media outlets last year.
But what if the FBI has it all wrong? (That link goes to a Rachel Maddow segment which I'd like to embed here but can't.)

The Christian Science Monitor talked to some experts who don't agree with the FBI's assessment...
“It’s mostly a repeat of information that has been in the public before,” Rob Graham, chief executive officer of research firm Errata Security, said of the FBI's statement issued Friday.

Many prominent names in the field, Graham and others, took to Twitter to express their concern. "I'm completely underwhelmed by the FBI's 'proof' attributing Sony attack to North Korea," Graham tweeted from his @ErrataRob account.
All of the technical watermarks can and frequently be falsified or mimicked by hackers.

“We know that hackers share malware on forums. Every hacker in the world has all the source code available,” says Mr. Graham.

“I think you have to go back to the original ransom note,” says Graham Cluley, a former antivirus software programmer and security consultant who currently writes about the industry for, a security blog.

“It didn’t ask for 'The Interview' to not be released, it asked for money," he says. "In Dark Seoul, there were no demands. They just wiped everything. We’re not even entirely sure that North Korea did that attack. We think they did, but it hasn’t been proven.”
My take? I'm not going to say that the FBI is incapable of lying. Far from it! But I can't think of any instance in which the Bureau did anything to risk injury to its god-like reputation for tech prowess.

On the other hand, Cluley raises some damned fine points -- points which most journalists covering this story refuse to mention.

The BBC presents a more-or-less balanced look at the details....
It's getting to the point where anytime I see anything in the media that's attributed to "US officials" I automatically assume it's misinformation.

The fact that our government has come under tremendous scrutiny for violating the security of the entire internet infrastructure leads me to believe that the more likely reality is that this attack was perpetrated by agents sympathetic to the US with the intention of creating a highly-visible incident which could then be leveraged as justification for another round of draconian security measures. This time, they'll be taking place in cyberspace. Think SOPA on steroids or something similar.

I'll be the first to admit that my first instinct is generally to imagine a worst case scenario and then double it, but based on the events we've all witnessed over the past 15 or so years, I think I may actually be too conservative in my approach.

I'd say only time will tell, but if the cabal creating the reality we're all subject to has their way, that may not be true.
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Colbert finale

Wow. They got Matt Taibbi and Paul Krugman in the same room with Grover Noquist and Henry Kissinger? I'm surprised that the planet survived. The result should have been more apocalyptic than Stanley Kubrick's version of "We'll Meet Again."

Oz out?

The great, sad news out of Australia right now is the discovery of eight children stabbed to death in Cairns. At this writing, the event is quite mysterious, although I suspect that we will have more information soon.

Politically, the most interesting news from down under is former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's recent piece arguing that Australia must distance itself from the United States. Fraser (in office 1975-1983) uses surprisingly blunt language:
IT IS time for Australia to end its strategic dependence on the United States. The relationship with America, which has long been regarded as beneficial, has now become dangerous to Australia’s future. We have effectively ceded to America the ability to decide when Australia goes to war. Even if America were the most perfect and benign power, this posture would still be incompatible with the integrity of Australia as a sovereign nation. It entails not simply deference but submission to Washington, an intolerable state of affairs for a country whose power and prosperity are increasing and whose national interests dictate that it enjoy amicable, not hostile, relations with its neighbors, including China.
Bottom line: We're bellicose. Australians don't want war: They want to do business.

Fraser lists four reasons why a strategic partnership with the Americans might prove ruinous:
First, despite much blather about a supposed unanimity of national purpose, the truth is that the United States and Australia have substantially different values systems. The idea of American exceptionalism is contrary to Australia’s sense of egalitarianism.
Did it ever occur to the neocons that this country's continual insistence on the exceptionalist fantasy might not play well with our allies? They aren't impressed by all of that "shining city on a hill" nonsense. These days, that hill is a dunghill, and the shine has worn off.
Second, we have seen the United States act in an arbitrary, imprudent and capricious fashion. It has made a number of ill-advised and ill-informed decisions concerning Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
The third reason: The partnership means Australia would go to war when we do. The fourth reason: Australia might be attacked by one of our enemies.
American fecklessness has produced this state of affairs.
Sing it, Brother Malcolm! Although, as I've noted before, use of the word "feckless" implies that some people are feckful. Personally, I'm not sure how much feck I have, due to a malfunctioning feckometer.

Fraser's piece is fairly long, so you should read the rest for yourself. I'll note only a few highlights:
The way in which war has been conducted through South Asia—especially the use of drones, which have killed significant numbers of civilians—provides the extremists with a welcome and potent recruiting tool. Nor is this all. Events in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine also represent a grotesque failure of U.S. diplomacy and a reduction in American influence worldwide.
There's a quote attributed to Voltaire: "To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Although many dispute the accuracy of that quote (frankly, I never heard it before this year), the sentiment adds flavor to Fraser's words.

Fraser then discusses the American base in Darwin and -- of course -- the great eavesdropping facility in Pine Gap:
This used to be a largely defensive facility. It was, more than anything else, an information-gathering operation of significant importance. Changes in communications and weapons technology, and their application to a great variety of U.S. weapons systems, from drones to longer-range missiles, have altered the character of Pine Gap. Information from Pine Gap is also used for missile defense (which China regards as vitiating its nuclear deterrent) and for targeting a range of modern offensive missiles. This would give Pine Gap a new and urgent relevance if a conflict between China and Japan involving the United States developed into a serious crisis. It is Pine Gap, above all, that makes it impossible for Australia to say that it is not involved.
Fraser bluntly states that Pine Gap must be closed within four or five years, and Australian personnel removed from the facility within six months.
THUS, STEP by step, discreetly, even secretly, successive Australian governments have allowed a situation to develop in which if America goes to war in the western Pacific, we will have no option but to go to war as a direct consequence. If Australia sought to stand aside, it would not be believed. We have never before been in such a situation. This situation is not compatible with Australian integrity or with Australian sovereignty. Australians do not realize that America’s capacity to declare war and include us is far greater than the power Britain had over the Dominions.

No foreign power should have that control over Australia, and certainly not a United States whose values are different and whose strategic decisions have been shown to be ill balanced and dangerous.
How might Fraser have improved this argument? He might have noted that his years as Prime Minister overlapped Jimmy Carter's tenure as President. Jimmy Carter is now on record as saying that America no longer has a functioning democracy.

That pretty much clinches the case, doesn't it? Why would Australia want a dicey strategic partnership with a former democracy? If the United States requires allies, we should reconsider the kind of country we want to be. If we lose our allies, we lose our superpower status. We tell ourselves that others need us. They don't.
Well, you were a busy man last night. Thanks for this. We have to learn how to articulate our denunciation of our former democracy and this helps...I'll certain read the full damning statement in its entirety.

The war machine has declared war even on its "own" people. I'm sure you saw the disturbing swarm of black helicopters (the benign collective noun "hover" doesn't work here) recently in Baltimore, and my friends from Boston noted them there as well. Most recently there was an article about this occurring in Texas, noting that these "practice" exercises (aka an intimidating and threatening show of force) were being conducted in cities throughout the US.

No, I did not notice choppers over Bawlmer. But I've hardly left my attic wonderland in recent days.

I did HEAR lots of aircraft, and even asked if the Blue Angels were buzzing the town again.
Thanks Joseph for the Oz write up. 8 children were murdered here. The mother of 7 of them (and the aunt of the other victim) has just been charged with their murders. The incident occurred in a depressed social housing section of the tropical south Pacific town of Cairns (so it's hardly a hell environment). Neither the children nor the mother had previously come to the attention of social services. Sounds like this was a disturbed person.

On the Malcolm Fraser front, thank you. Ordinary Australians have been pressing our adolescent PM Tony Abbott (a Stephen Harper clone) to pull his head out of Uncle Sam's arse and develop an independent foreign policy. A US military base here pretty much defeats that goal. Just a week ago he welcomed Ukraine's Pres.Petro Poroshenko on a state visit. It was a mutual back-slapping exercise from two right wing frauds. No mention of Kiev atrocities in Ukraine's Eastern regions and, of course, no mention of those either from our own Murdoch press.

One aspect your readers might like to note is that Malcolm Fraser became PM back in 1975 in what was essentially a US sponsored coup against a reformist Labor government lead by a Labor legend named Gough Whitlam. I don't think Fraser recognized the CIA involvement because their influence was through our Governor General, the Queen's representative who sacked Whitlam from office.

Journalist John Pilger has a detailed account.
The fascist right - united as a cabal by ideology and possibly membership in a larger and yet unmentioned sect - are gradually seizing power all around the globe. All of the Five Eyes nations have now had their governments overtaken by the fascist right and they are consolidating their grip on power in every one of those nations.

Laws reducing freedom, expanding the reach of the surveillance and security states, and requiring military cooperation across a range of endeavors indicates that instead of acting in the interests of protecting their respective populations, these illegitimate governments are forming an axis in preparation for global war.

The events in Syria and the Ukraine are but the latest in a long line of US and NATO-led provocations designed to destabilize nations who are either allied with our supposed enemies or otherwise opposed to the US-led annexation of the planet.

I don't know what the end game is but whatever it is, the results will be horrific beyond anything we've seen since WWII, and judging from the integration of security forces from the local level all the way up to the federal level in the United States, I can imagine that the internment of dissidents and other potential trouble makers will be swift and comprehensive.

I know it sounds alarmist as I type it, but when the guys selling the weapons, making the policy, gathering all of the intelligence on everyone in every nation, and promising to keep everyone safe from terrorists are also likely running the same terrorist networks they claim to be fighting, the outcome can only be bad.

In short: we're fucked.
So basically, Fraser told Uncle Sam to go feck himself? ;)
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did North Korea do it?

The New York Times says yes, North Korea did launch the hack attack against Sony...
American officials have concluded that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North’s leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.
Here's my problem: Remember when John Kerry assured us that there was no doubt that Bashar Assad launched those chemical weapons attacks in Damascus? And then those damnable doubts crept in...
While intelligence officials have concluded that the cyberattack was both state-sponsored and far more destructive than any seen before on American soil, there are still differences of opinion over whether North Korea was aided by Sony insiders with knowledge of the company’s computer systems, senior administration officials said.

“This is of a different nature than past attacks,” one official said.
Why would Sony insiders help Kim Jong-un's hired guns? That's suspicious. (If true.)

By contrast, Wired says that the evidence against North Korea is weak.
It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.
Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.
There's an argument against this: Kim Jon-Un is really just a potato-shaped spoiled kid, as are many hackers. Maybe he told his hackers to behave like the ones he has read about.

Wired goes on to posit that the threat against "places" showing The Interview could be a red herring, designed to make the Norks into the fall guys. The real perpetrators could be someone pissed off at Sony for other reasons.

Or maybe there is another political agenda at work here. Guardians Of Peace? One can derive a very amusing set of initials from that name.

Let's ignore, for the moment, those threats against The Interview, which may or may not have been mere window dressing. The evidence against North Korea comes to this:

1. Language.
Four files that researchers have examined, which appear to be connected to the hack, seem to have been compiled on a machine that was using the Korean language.
But a computer can, of course, be set to any language. By this standard, one might launch a "North Korean" attack from Columbus, Ohio.

2. Wiping software. The hackers used an app called RawDisk to wipe away data on Sony's computers. The same app was used in previous attacks against Saudi Arabia and South Korea. But were state actors involved in those attacks...?
The 2012 attack in Saudi Arabia, dubbed Shamoon, wiped data from about 30,000 computers belonging to Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil conglomerate. Although U.S. officials blamed Iran for it, researchers found that malware used in the attack contained sloppy code riddled with errors and attributed it to hacktivists with political motives rather than a nation-state.
And really, that's it. That's the evidence.

At least, that's the evidence available to the public right now (according to Wired). Maybe the government insiders who spoke to the NYT have some actual proof. I certainly hope so.

I don't want to be one of those screwballs who screech "False flag! False flag!" every time something unpleasant happens. And yet...just because North Korea is one majorly screwed-up country doesn't mean that they are the perps in this case. Both good people and bad people can be framed, although it's a lot easier to frame bad people.

Here's another obvious point: Making The Interview unavailable for release tells every would-be cyber terrorist (maybe a state actor, maybe a snotty kid in his uncle's basement) that powerful people will do whatever they are told to do. We have just witnessed the biggest buckle since the heyday of pilgrim headgear.
This is so odd. And if one were to speculate a false flag, then cui bono? Sony Pictures is a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation. It may be American, based out of Culvert City, but the word "Sony" won't stir indignant feelings of American patriotism in anyone. So what good as a false flag to direct anger towards N Korea? Even if it pissed off the Japanese, they aren't leaning towards N.K.. So what's the point? The USA wants to prevent economic integration between Japan and China, not with N.K..
When I see "American officials" in any news article as a source, I immediately assume that some sort of propaganda is forthcoming. The term is basically meaningless, and a way for the media to let you know they will be towing the government line in the rest of the article.

I think the "buckle", as you refer to it, is pretty suspicious. I thought we didn't negotiate with terrorists? Of course, it was Sony that buckled, not the US government, but still. I find it fairly bizarre that they would just give in like that. I'm less surprised that the theater companies would, as they could probably assume that ticket sales would plummet because of the threats, whether they were real or not.

Of course, if North Korea didn't do it, what was the motive? Personally, I think some basement dwelling, pimple adorned hackers are having a good laugh about all this right now.
Obviously if this is a setup and North Korea is not responsible, then the culprit would more likely be someone wanting to frame North Korea? And who might that be? Remember how Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and PNAC need reasons to go to war before 2000? And how Rumsfeld's old Swiss company was involved with selling nuke components to North Korea? Which was then later used as a reason to go to war against NK. How Saddam was framed for shit he never did In order to get the USA in a war? Which bad actors were behind misleading everyone on those events?

Who benefits from having both a Hollywood liberal movie studio and North Korea both getting their asses royally kicked? Who benefits from revealing that U.S. intel is working with Sony execs to make anti-commie movies? Who benefits from leaking all of this personal info about Sony employees and execs? Who benefits from blackmailing a U.S./Japanese movie studio and by extension the American public? Who benefits by threatening terror attacks on the USA if they see the movie?

Which parties have done this type of thing in the past? And what is this similar to? North Korea may or may not be involved.. I suspect the ongoing "Wreck America" project is not really the work of one group or country anyways, but the work of many. Just like 9/11 was not the work of one country.
As an expression of our cultural Imperial hubris, what could be a better treat for the holiday season than a romping-good stoner comedy, revolving around the assassination of a foreign leader? It's assumed that we all hate Kim Jong Whatisname (although I personally don't give a shit) so where is the harm? Ho Ho Ho, maybe next Christmas season will bring a comic film about the snuffing of Putin, Julian Assange or Evo Morales. To those who think it's in bad taste: "Why do you hate American comedy, comrade?"

Finally, as to who done it, no one has mentioned the possibility that Sony may have fallen behind on it's payments to the Yakuza, and this is the result, nicely framed as a hack from North Korea, for discretion's sake.
I can't believe I got all the way to the end of that post without finding a single sentence that attempted to blame Israel. You're slipping, Joseph.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This, that and the other thing

This. Nate Silver asks if Jeb Bush is too liberal to win the Republican nomination. Silver has devised a conservatism scale, which you can study if you follow the link.
Bush scores at a 37 on this scale, similar to Romney and McCain, each of whom scored a 39. He’s much more conservative than Huntsman, who rates at a 17.

Still, Bush is more like his father, George H.W. Bush, who rates as a 33, than his brother George W. Bush, who scores a 46. And the Republican Party has moved to the right since both Poppy and Dubya were elected. The average Republican member in the 2013-14 Congress rated a 51 on this scale, more in line with potential candidates Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee.

So, would you rather see a 30-something Republican or a 50-something Republican win the nomination? Remember, the 30-something stands a greater chance of winning in the general, but if the 50-something sneaks in a win, he is much more likely to start Total Thermonuclear War Against Everything Everywhere because Jesus told him to.

If Jeb is considered too liberal for his party and Hillary is considered too conservative for her party, is that a good thing or a bad thing? More importantly: In a match-up between the more-liberal-than-Hillary candidate and the more-conservative-than-Jeb candidate, who would win?

That. Sony pictures made a comedy called The Interview, which apparently makes fun of Kim Jong-un. In apparent retaliation, hackers targeted Sony's head honchos and revealed some embarrassing emails. (There was some shit about Angelina Jolie. I haven't really followed that stuff. Not my bag.)

Then things got serious. The same hackers (allegedly) issued threats of 9/11-style retaliation against any theater showing The Interview. Cowed theater owners now say they won't show the movie.

It gets weirder.
The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.
No, I am not quoting The Onion.
The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.
A series of leaked emails reveal that Sony enlisted the services of Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who specializes in North Korea, to consult with them on The Interview. After he saw the film, including the gruesome ending where a giant missile hits Kim Jong Un’s helicopter in slow-mo as Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays, and Kim’s head catches on fire and explodes, Bennett gave his assessment of it in a June 25 email to Lynton.

“The North has never executed an artillery attack against the balloon launching areas. So it is very hard to tell what is pure bluster from North Korea, since they use the term ‘act of war’ so commonly,” wrote Bennett. “I also thought a bunch more about the ending. I have to admit that the only resolution I can see to the North Korean nuclear and other threats is for the North Korean regime to eventually go away.”

He added, “In fact, when I have briefed my book on ‘preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse’ [Sept 2013], I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.”

That same day, Lynton responded saying that a U.S. government official completely backed Bennett’s assessment of the film.
Wow. Where to start?

In the first place, we must always keep in mind the possibility that at least some of what we are seeing may be nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Second: Any theater that backs down due to a threat from North Korea is acting in a very cowardly fashion.

Third: Any secret interaction between a big movie studio and The Gummint is very, very troubling.

Yes, I know that the target here is Kim Jong-Un, who is universally unloved outside of North Korea. Kim is genuinely unhinged, genuinely dangerous and genuinely ludicrous. I can think of no-one more deserving of a place in the annals of dark humor. If film-makers want to blow raspberries at the guy -- great.

But they should not do so with the secret assistance of anyone in the State Department, the intelligence agencies, or Rand.

No. That shit is out. Under all circumstances. No matter what the purpose or who the target might be.

Jim DiEugenio's Reclaiming Parkland has a chapter which details the increasingly close ties between Hollywood and the government. Remember all of those films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s which cast a critical eye on the CIA? When was the last time you saw a movie like that? True, there was Killing the Messenger, the film about Gary Webb which you probably did not see. Most people didn't even know it was playing. The studio obviously wanted that thing to leave the theaters as quickly as possible.

The most politically radical popular film of recent times was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie which carefully (and colorfully) hides its message in a Marvel comics metaphor. 

If the studios are in bed with the government on any project (even a project about Kim Jong-Un), then we have to ask: What's really going on behind the scenes? How often does this sort of thing happen?

The Other Thing. Here's a test for advanced students only: How does this video clip link up to the JFK assassination? It is possible to figure out the answer without watching the video (although you really should watch it, because you'll see a remarkable performance by one of the greats). Googling may help.

I spent all of last night following the various by-ways of that particular research trail, and I have to tell you -- I went wandering into some very bizarre places. Mad Magazine. American Nazis. Sleazy paperback books of the 1960s. Hypnosis. Flying saucers. What a wild story! One of these days, I may tell you all about it.

Oh...what the hell. Let's just make things simple and embed the clip...

Heard Jeb Bush the other day, maybe last week, say that he would test the theory of losing the primary but gain the nomination. Which seems audacious at best because it means that he's depending on the Big Money donors to hand him the prize. Or the Republican party to shred itself to oblivion [one can only hope]. Tend to think a civil war might break out. But what do I know.

I have read consistently that Jeb is considered 'too liberal,' a joke and a half. This is the same Tea Party meme touted in terms of Chris Christie. Because he believes in climate change, limited gun control and doesn't believe every Muslim on earth is an enemy. Beyond that, the man is damaged goods and New Jersey will be lucky to be rid of him

Could get very interesting, particularly since Jeb has the same problem as Romney--lots of questionable financial deals and history to explain. If he survives 'immigration is an act of love,' I'll be amazed.

On NPR yesterday They mentioned Jeb saying that he was willing to take a big hit in the primaries in order to have legitimate standing in the general election, as Peggysue mentions. Jeb says that he's releasing all his emails from the last several years in the interest of transparency.

I wonder how the recent torture revelations will hurt Jeb by smearing the Bush brand name? Even the unscrupulous Karl Rove is talking dirt about GW now. But Americans have such short memories.
The outcome of presidential elections in the United States is about as random as the outcome of professional wrestling matches. The winner has been chosen by the powers-that-be long before the votes are ever cast. The sooner we all figure that out, the sooner we can go about finding a real solution.

Obama was installed because he was the candidate who could placate the nation by providing the illusion of voter control. The system still maintained a 41 seat minority for the GOP to insure that nothing productive happened and that the status quo was maintained, but that's all our elections are: an illusion.

That's how the Illuminati (or whatever you want to call our ruling class) maintain power: by always rigging the game while convincing us they haven't.
The person who may be the greatest threat maybe Rand Paul. He says one thing and then does another. With 24 ranking for Public Issue Statements and 98 ranking for Congressional Voting Record, he can easily adjust to meet the middle while still appealing to both extremes. I do not believe his Libertarian (Ayn Rand) views would be good for the country.
Greatly appreciate your opeds - reminds me of the thoughtful comments Eric Severide(Sp?) use to make during Cronkite news years...I went to my 2nd movie of the year "Interstellar" (thumbs down)and saw the review of "The OInterview" - I remember being instantly struck by the audacity of it's plot. When did it become acceptable to make fun of assassinating a foreign leader? Yeah, I agree eliminating Kim would be effective in eliminating his inhumane regime; but to juxtapose stupid slapstick comedy against the reality of the inhumanity taking place is kind of sick. Of course, our stupid populace will laugh & love it when it eventually is released. Knowing that North Koreans have been reduced to cannibalism because of famine, the whole movie seems inhumane.

"When did it become acceptable to make fun of assassinating a foreign leader?"

I dunno. I'm still trying to figure out when it became acceptable to film a comedy in which a girl uses a wad of cum as hair gel.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A man named Jeb

Jeb's in.

And suddenly I don't want to piss on Hillary anymore, since she has the better shot of defeating him. On the other hand, do we really want to see politics devolve into a competition between the Bush and Clinton dynasties? Apparently, quite a few Republicans are less-than-enamored of the idea of another Bush run.

Here's where I think I'll come down: While Hillary may be the stronger candidate against Jeb, we still desperately need someone who will articulate a truly different vision for this country. We need a "nix on neocons" voice. In terms of foreign policy, there's not much space between Hillary Clinton and the Bush clan. Years ago, I would never have written the preceding sentence, but her disastrous turn as Secretary of State was infuriating.

You know, there's an argument to be made that another Bush presidency might destroy the Republican brand name once and for all...

Hate to see Cannonfire casting glances at the "heighten the contradictions" bandwagon.

There would be too much collateral damage in allowing another Bush presidency, even if it did blow up the Republican party.
What difference does it make?
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Syrian Girl, Ferguson, Elizabeth Warren, and a 9/11 hoax

The video embedded above shows Maram Susli (Syrian Girl) being interviewed by a mainstream morning news show in Australia. She does quite well! Of course, she benefits from being interviewed by Australian newsolk who are rather better behaved than your average American newsbimbo.

Still, I was miffed by the way they kept asking Susli about her credentials and sources of information. No-one ever asks those questions of men. And they don't ask such questions of rightwingers of either sex.

Had Susli done a show like this in America, the only permissible topic would have been Israel Israel Israel! How dare you ever say anything bad about Israel? There would have been a relentless effort to picture her as an anti-Semite and a probable member of Al Qaeda.

Pushing Warren. Okay, it's official: There is a concerted effort to push Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race. See here.
In what has perhaps been the most significant piece of the draft movement puzzle so far, the liberal group recently launched a $1 million effort to persuade Warren to entire the race and is in the process of establishing a presence in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Partnering with Ready for Warren, is hosting its first “Draft Warren” rally at a coffee shop in Des Moines on Wednesday -- an event that will be closely watched for indications of enthusiasm for her candidacy among progressive activists in the nation’s first voting state.
The real question: Is the "draft Warren" movement entirely the work of people who like Warren and her progressive message?

When a mainstreamer like David Brooks say things like this, should we worry?

Liz and Ayn? Matt Taibbi says that Warren's opposition to the mighty CROMnibus bill was actually rooted in her conservative instincts:
...Warren's opposition to the Citi provision wasn't a left-leaning move at all. It was very much a conservative position. Ayn Rand herself, dragged from the grave and lashed to a chair on the floor of the Senate, would have argued the same thing.

All the Dodd-Frank rule says is that if you're a federally-insured depository institution – if you're an FDIC-guaranteed bank, where real people have real bank accounts that are guaranteed by the federal government – you can't also be gambling with swaps and other dangerous derivative instruments.

Think of it in terms of a workman's compensation law. If you're going to be insured against injury by the state, the state should get to demand that you don't engage in fire-eating or base-jumping during work hours.

There's no logical argument against the provision. The banks only want it because they want to use your bank accounts as a human shield to protect their dangerous gambling activities.
I'm not sure that Taibbi is right to bring Ayn Rand into this. At any rate, why use that whack job as the cultural touchstone? 

Other than that, Taibbi makes a lot of sense:
Meanwhile, on the other side, we have "liberals" in the White House and in the lame-duck Senate leadership who are nakedly whoring for big business in this affair, unashamedly doing favors for banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that in recent years have racked up tens of billions of dollars in penalties for a smorgasbord of corrupt practices. Establishment Democrats like Harry Reid almost certain to cave and wave through the Citigroup provision, foregoing a filibuster-type standoff.
Police state watch. Bill Clinton says that Eric Garner didn't deserve to die. Well, duh.

More important is this CNN story on Ferguson. The headline conveys the impression that McCulloch was right: "One challenge for Ferguson grand jury: Some witnesses' credibility."

But then we get into the meat of the piece. Confirmation: McCulloch got exactly the outcome that he intended.
"It's no surprise that some people did not tell the truth in this or any other grand jury," says CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

What is unusual in the Ferguson case is that prosecutors chose to call so many witnesses, including some whose credibility they doubted.

"Usually, a prosecutor applies her own screen to the witnesses -- and only introduces evidence that she believes will be credible and believable," says Toobin.
If McCulloch wanted a trial, he could have shown only the most important witnesses to the grand jury. As for the conflicting testimony offered by other witnesses: That's what trials are for -- to work out conflicts in testimony.

The CNN piece also discusses a factor which has received little play in print pieces, although I've heard it discussed on MSNBC:
In later testimony, Witness 40 changed her story about some of what she saw and admitted to having gathered some details from news reports. She also gave a different reason for having allegedly been in Ferguson that day, and shared part of a journal that she claimed to have kept.

On the day of the killing, she posted a comment online saying, "They need to kill the f---ing n-----s. It is like an ape fest," the grand jury documents say. (CNN is redacting the "f" and "n" words, but she used them in full.) She also organized a small group helping raise money for officers, including Wilson -- a group she said was created as a result of this incident.
Did Atta go to Prague? Apparently not! The torture report was the Big Spook Story this week, but let's not overlook this shocking revelation, which comes to us by way of Michigan Senator Carl Levin. Do you recall when American newsfolk revealed that 9/11 aviation enthusiast Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague before the attacks? We now the official confirmation that the whole yarn was bullsquat.

Director John Brennan still refuses to declassify a document (known to Senator Levin) which tells the whole story. You have to ask yourself: Why on earth is Obama's choice to head the Agency covering up Bush-era disinfo?

I'm going to take the liberty of quoting Levin's piece at some length, because this material is important. Indeed -- as I'll make clear in my final comments -- this story is very relevant to today.
On March 6, 2003, just two weeks before U.S. troops would cross the Iraqi border, President Bush held a prime-time televised press conference. In that press conference he mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks eight times, often in the same breath as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded. According to public polls in the week before the Iraq war, half or more of Americans believed Saddam was directly involved in the attacks. One poll taken in September 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Americans who believed in a link between Iraq and 9/11 overwhelmingly supported the idea of invading Iraq. Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction.

America’s intelligence community was pressed to participate in the administration’s media campaign. Just a week after the President’s prime-time press conference, on March 13, 2003, CIA field staff sent a cable to CIA headquarters, responding to a request for information about a report that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings, had met in 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence official in the Czech capital of Prague. In stark terms, this CIA cable from the field warned against U.S. government officials citing the report of the alleged Prague meeting.

Yet the notion of such a meeting was a centerpiece of the administration’s campaign to create an impression in the public mind that Saddam was in league with the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. On multiple occasions, including national television appearances, Vice President Dick Cheney cited reports of the meeting, at one point calling it “pretty well confirmed.” Officials from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, who set up a sort of rogue intelligence analysis operation, briefed senior officials with a presentation citing the Prague meeting as a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.

Now, why am I bringing up a CIA cable from more than a decade ago? Isn’t this old, well-covered terrain? No, it isn’t. This is about giving the American people a full account of the march to war as new information becomes available. It is about trying to hold leaders who misled the public accountable. It is about warning future leaders of this nation that they must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements.
Here is what the Vice President said on December 9, 2001, in an interview on “Meet the Press:” “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”

Far from “pretty well confirmed,” there was almost no evidence that such a meeting took place. Just a single unsubstantiated report, from a single source, and a mountain of information indicating there was no such meeting, including the fact that travel and other records indicated that Atta was almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague.
Levin coes on to quote Jiri Ruzek, who was the head of Czech intelligence in 2001:
Mr. Ruzek writes, “It was becoming more and more clear that we had not met expectations and did not provide the ‘right’ intelligence output.” Mr. Ruzek goes on: “The Americans showed me that anything can be violated, including the rules that they themselves taught us. Without any regard to us, they used our intelligence information for propaganda press leaks. They wanted to mine certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action. We were supposed to play the role of useful idiot thanks to whose initiative a war would be started.”

That’s chilling. We have a senior intelligence official of a friendly nation describing the pressure that he and other Czech officials were under to give the Bush administration material it could use to justify a war.
This is not just a historical matter. As you read these words, keep in mind the current whelps for war in Syria and Ukraine.

Remember the 2013 sarin attacks in Damascus? People scoffed when I said that those attacks were probably the work of the rebels, not Bashar Assad. They stopped scoffing months ago. Nobody believes the "Assad did it" lie anymore.

And that is why this adminstration doesn't want to expose the intelligence lies of yesteryear. The warmongers don't want to call into question the credibility of those who tell similar lies today.

(Actually, the "Prague" disinfo tale is a rich, complex affair. I may go into some of the tributary issues later on today.)
Lying us into war
On the one year anniversary of 9-11, GW Bush suddenly stopped mentioning the name of Osama Bin Laden and filled this void with Saddam Hussein. It was then that I knew we were going to war. The propaganda techniques of using inference and word associations were rife, but nobody called them on it. The origin of the forged Niger yellow cake uranium documents which provided a basis for the "mushroom cloud" warning, were never investigated. The corporate press went along with the fraud, just as they did under GHW Bush when the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter testified before congress about newborns being dumped from incubators onto the hospital floor. It is an old game they play and the American public is easily gamed.

Regarding the current drive for war, and the present lull in Ukraine; the airports are closed to allow American transport planes anonymity to land with loads of military equipment.

Russian author and state adviser Mikhail Delyagin discusses the evidence that a false flag nuclear detonation is planned for the very near future in Ukraine, to be blamed upon Putin. This would allow the most severe banking sanctions possible to be placed upon Russia.

Russia was planning to test their new currency trading system on May 15 but moved that date to yesterday. This will allow states to conduct financial transactions outside of the American dollar system.

Webster Tarpley had a great rant on his Saturday show; Elizabeth Warren will probably serve as Hillary's left flank much as Huntsman served as Romney's left flank. Predictably installed for a reason, to be pushed aside as Neo-con backed Hillary steamrolls through.
- I'm afraid there is no light at the end of the tunnel and it's gonna get worse...(Jeb)...
You have to ask yourself: Why on earth is Obama's choice to head the Agency covering up Bush-era disinfo?

Simple really, if jeb becomes potus he'll cover for 0. On it goes.
I. Who is Syrian Girl? {] "A self-described member of the former bourgeois ruling-class that was deposed from power during the Bathist coup, she would like to run Syria herself one day. Her grandfather was in government and she believes that the only path for Syrian sovereignty is through diplomatic reform, believing that her country will become another Afghanistan if left to the desire of outside forces (NATO, Israel and the United States)." She is just a knowledgeable person who sees what is really happening in Syria.
II, What happened in Ferguson is not not just happening to blacks.See your posted videos about the police. Also see how the police dealt with the Occupy Movement. The emphasis on the racial aspects is to divide the 99% along racial lines instead of rich verses the rest of us.
III. I am fearful that an Elizabeth Warren candidacy would turn out like George McGovern's. Remember that Richard Nixon and the Republican party secretly supported George McGovern in the primaries.
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Webber: You are right -- police abuse is not just a black "thing." I think police KILLINGS are much more likely to happen to black people, but the problem of cops-as-robbers is one that directly affects everyone.

As for Syrian Girl: I know her mom has said that she should be running Syria one day! Personal ambition certainly insulates her from the charge that she is merely an Assad hireling. When you think about it, Syria could do worse: A modern, westernized Sunni -- someone with anti-American credentials, yet who knows how to work the American media -- yet who came to the support of the Alawite regime when it was challenged from without. That might serve to bring the country together.

I've jokingly said before that if I were a young man, I'd drop everything and devote myself to making Maram Susli queen of Syria, or any other country she wanted to be queen of.
With Warren I see 2008 allover again. If Hillary wants to run (something seem off to me there) should have a concrete assurance from the party that's not going to happen other wise let them that what I would do
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Many stories, one theme: Us Versus Them

The above video from Max Blumenthal is important for a number of reasons. In the first part, he talks about his travels in Germany, where he had to deal with being called an "anti-Semite" by the offspring of Nazis. Later in the presentation, he talks about the Weisenthal Center's opposition to a law which would have forbade American aid the neo-Nazi organizations.

Re-read the preceding sentence over and over until the full implications sink in.

You can read more about the matter on Alternet. It all has to do with Ukraine, of course. Apparently, the New Cold War against Russia trumps all other concerns.

Why are Israelis fighting with the neo-Nazis? There was a time when I would have considered the preceding sentence to be unthinkable, yet there it is in Ha'aretz...

Count me among the thirteen percent. In a new Gallup poll, thirteen percent of Americans think that the United States of America is the world's biggest threat to peace.
Thirty-seven percent of Mexicans and 17 percent of Canadians view their neighboring country with suspicion on the world stage. A surprising 13 percent of American respondents rated their own nation the biggest threat to world peace as well.
Ed Snowden's lawyer. The lawyer's name is Wolfgang Kaleck, and he thinks Europe should embark on a new aggressive effort to prosecute US officials involved with torture.
“If these people enter European territory, they need to know that they’ll run into severe trouble,” he told the Guardian.
“We have to talk about command responsibility. It’s not about the rotten apples, the Lynndie Englands and agents on the ground only,” he said, referring to the former US army reservist who was one of 11 – low-ranking service people convicted over abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“Those who came back from interrogation sessions with blood on their hands have to be prosecuted, but if it’s only them, then it would be a late victory for the Bush government. We need to investigate the architects and planners of this systematic torture,” Kaleck said.
Coalescence. Here's an excellent piece by Mark Bittman in the NYT on the conjunction of the income inequality movement and the black lives matter movement.
The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that’s the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and “income mobility” now describes how the rich get richer while the poor ... actually get poorer.

The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles — anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed — that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.
I've made this last point many times. Whenever libertarians make their case to the younger generation, they always focus on the social and cultural issues. I call this GLIT -- the Great Libertarian Infiltration Tactic: Here's the deal, prole: You can have your pot and your gay marriage -- just let Jeff Bezos do whatever the hell he wants. He is GOD ON EARTH.

A growing number of people see GLIT as the gimmick it is. It's a way of distracting us from the simple fact that America worked better in the 1950s and 1960s, when we were less libertarian and more "socialist." (The "S" word was not used then, but that label is now routinely applied to anyone who wants to go back to the old system.)
Meanwhile, the credibility of those who argue that employers “can’t afford” to raise pay — McDonald’s paid its C.E.O. $9.5 million last year — is nil. For one thing, there are examples of profitable businesses that treat their employees decently, and even countries where fast-food workers can make ends meet. And for another, underpaying workers simply shifts the cost of supporting them onto public coffers. As Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says, “In essence, taxpayers are subsidizing the wealthiest family in America.” That would be the Waltons. (Incredibly, many Republicans still want the working poor to pay more taxes.)
Those would be the libertarian wing. Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today.

Unbelievable! Ferguson opened the eyes of many to the systematic robbery being perpetrated by the cops in many parts of the country. And now they plan to step it up...
For the current year, the city is budgeting for higher receipts from police-issued tickets.

“There are a number of things going on in 2014 and one is a revenue shortfall that we anticipate making up in 2015,” Blume said. “There’s about a million-dollar increase in public-safety fines to make up the difference.”

Revenue from violations, which already represents the city’s second-largest source of cash after sales taxes, will rise to 15.7 percent of receipts in fiscal 2015, from a projected 11.8 percent this year, he said.
This, too, is libertarianism in action.

The riff-raff. The one percenters are coming up with plans to strip-mine, and ultimately dispose of, those annoying poor people...
A study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition concluded that an average American renter would need to earn $18.92 per hour -- well over twice the minimum wage -- to afford a two-bedroom apartment. "In no state," their report says, "can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent." Over one-eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost since 2001.

Little wonder that so many people are homeless: over 600,000 on any January night in the U.S., tens of thousands of children, tens of thousands of veterans, and one of every five suffering from mental illness.
The poor half of America is victimized by the banking industry, which takes an average of $2,412 each year from underserved households for interest and fees on alternative financial services; by rental centers that charge effective annual interest rates over 100 percent; by payday lenders whocharge effective annual interest rates of over 1,000 percent; and by the burgeoning prison industry, which charges prisoners for food and health care and phone calls and probation monitoring and anything else they can think of.
The U.S. court system is flooded with cases for minor infractions, including loitering charges reminiscent of the infamous Black Codes of post-slavery years. The buildup of arrests has added one out of every three U.S. adults to the FBI's criminal database.

The poor are criminalized for lying down or sleeping in public; for sharing food; for simply having nowhere to go.
Krugman on the end of Dodd-Frank. Krugman argues the regulation of insured banks is not the real issue, since AIG and Lehman were not insured. But
After all, even if you believe (in defiance of the lessons of history) that financial institutions can be trusted to police themselves, even if you believe the grotesquely false narrative that bleeding-heart liberals caused the financial crisis by pressuring banks to lend to poor people, especially minority borrowers, you should be against letting Wall Street play games with government-guaranteed funds. What just went down isn’t about free-market economics; it’s pure crony capitalism.

And sure enough, Citigroup literally wrote the deregulation language that was inserted into the funding bill.
"This, too, is libertarianism in action."

About as much as Obama's drive into Syria is progressive in nature.
While you caught the Citigroup derivative deregulation provision in the Cromnibus bill, you missed the Kline-Miller amendment that guts ERISA protections for already-earned pension benefits. Once Obama signs it (and you know he will, because he's got his own retirement to think of, suckers), retirees will lose statutory protection for current benefits (meaning their pensions can be cut unilaterally, with no recourse).

Another fine piece of "bipartisan" legislation brought to you by the Uniparty!
JB: Oh yes it IS Libertarianism in action!
Exactly Joseph, i didn't want to go find the link; and Obama calls himself progressive too, right before asking to invade Syria. A naming of oneself doesn't make the identity real, or the extrapolation concrete.
You think the current writers at Hit and Run would say, "yea, great idea" there? Hell no they wouldn't. It's right there in the article. And yet something gets pulled up from 30-40 years ago in association is supposed to be some sort of damning evidence of all things libertarian? It's just lazy pedestrian slander with tribalisitic partisan flavors of meme to enhance the crowd.
Just some feedback on the terror incident here in Oz.

Manteghi Bourjerdi (AKA Sheik Man Haron Monis) was a sick individual, on bail despite being charged with accessory to the murder of his ex wife and setting her on fire, hand delivering offensive letters to widows of fallen Australian soldiers calling into question their role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 40 counts of sexual assault. He was an Iranian refugee, a Shia who would have been killed on sight by Sunni ISIS. This was about a disturbed nut job, not an Islamic terrorist.

There has been one very good outcome. Someone started a hashtag and a social movement called I'll ride with you, offering to travel with Muslims who may feel under threat from popular backlash. It's good to see ordinary people have their heads screwed on right when it counts. Generally, the nation -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- have closed ranks. Nice to see.
Lucy Steigerwald with a nicer response than I can manage:
And much more representative of modern day libertarians than some reason article from 40 years ago.

She says something that is spot on too, I think of you too Joseph, and that is:" The problem is top-down and bottom-up, but since libertarians (and some conservatives) tend to mention the federal connection, progressives feel threatened and need to undermine them."

Not a comment, but a question. If Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists, why is that? Is it A. Because Jews as a race are inherently evil and inferior (the Hitler approach), B. Because Judaism itself is inherently evil (the Shahak approach), C. The culture of Israel is evil as a result of the persecution visited upon them throughout history, sort of an abused child syndrome theory (in which case, of course, it should not ever allow Palestinians power over them since the Palestinians, having been tormented by the Jews, would no doubt be overly cruel to them) or D. Something else, which would be...what?
Polling tends to reveal that the majority of Americans support "socialist" economic policies. But neither of the two political parties care a whit about the voters, they are beholden to their funders. Libertarian nostrums on economics are promoted by the funders of the two political parties, they do not represent mainstream thinking in the public at large.

Past that, progressive candidates have to become sharper in their analysis and less defensive in response to typical criticism (i.e. "tax and spend"). But, even if they do, the message can be easily lost in a flood of attack ads. The Supreme Court's campaign spending rulings are the ultimate trump card.
"Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today."

Saying it don't make it so. To make the claim it's the worst force in the world you have more explaining to do. Explain to a Libyan whose university was burned down by Al Qaeda why Ron Paul is worse than Hillary.-
"...Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists...". I re-read this entire post joseph, and I couldn't find this statement anywhere.
The workforce in the country was also half of what it was now with most women working (and not having their labor taxed) in the home. I wonder what your thoughts are on this, Joseph, and I say that as someone that fully believes women should have the opportunity to work if they so wish. I'm not sure that it's an ideal situation, but I don't think it's possible to put that genie back in the bottle either.
@Propertius 1:37

We're headed for a world of hurt. Banks can inflate the housing bubble to gamble with derivatives using our savings and pension funds. With new laws the casino banks can harvest our pensions and savings to cover their losses. The US insurance of depositor savings can only cover billions while the deposits to be covered amount to many trillions. If the banks crash then everybody loses everything... pensions and savings. What a dark distopian future lies ahead, a very near future it seems.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tech question (Plus: An art joke. And sea urchins.)

So, my nice big monitor has gone totally blackscreen on me, and I do not have the funds to replace it. It's a little annoying to do Photoshop work the dinky backup monitor, but, like whatever.

Here's the thing: A number of YouTube videos convey the impression that monitor repair is easy. Just open 'er up, look for the bad capacitor (the cylindrical thingies), remove and solder a new one in place.

But what if all the capacitors look fine? Anyone out there know what to do next? (I know that the power supply is bad because I could see a very faint image on the lcd screen when I held a light right up next to it.)

Someone out there must be savvy enough to tell me what to do next. Thanks in advance!

The art joke: Actually, this is a true story. Salvador Dali and an artist friend attended an exhibition of abstract paintings. After a while, the friend asked Dali: "Why do you keep looking at that door over there?"

Dali answered: "Because it's the best-painted thing in here."

Salvador Dali tells this story in a book titled 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, which is full of useful, practical information for anyone in the trade. Some of his secrets are a bit odd, as you might expect. For example, he says that the oil painter's medium should include three decomposing wasps. I've never met anyone who has followed that advice, so I can't tell you if the wasps help. But Dali's paintings are in good condition, so I guess the wasps don't hurt.

He also says that dogs must be banished from the artist's studio; instead, the painter must keep a pet spider. Yeah, well...screw that.

The first secret is a bit complicated...
To begin with, you will eat three dozen sea urchins, gathered on one of the last two days that precede the full moon, choosing only those whose star is coral red and discarding the yellow ones. The collaboration of the moon in such cases is necessary, for otherwise not only do you risk that the sea urchins will be more empty but above all that they do not possess to the same degree the sedative and narcotic virtues so special and so propitious to your approaching slumber.* For the same reason these sea urchins should be eaten preferably in the spring—May is a good month.
It goes on and on like that. According to Dali, this meal puts one into a special slumber, and incredible dreams will come, and those dreams will inspire great paintings.Unfortunately, I don't know where one finds urchins around here, so I'm going to have to make do with Gorton's fish sticks. I'll let you know how it works.

And seriously, I need advice from someone who knows how to repair monitors. Can I do the job without a sea urchin...?

I repaired a Samsung TV myself. It was just a matter of searching for a YouTube video showing how to do it and then ordering the resistors and soldering gun from Amazon. Never buy a Samsung TV.
(Long - in 3 parts.)

Unfortunately, monitors can go black for a number of reasons; a bad capacitor is only one. That said, it's definitely worth looking into, as a dollar part and an hour's hassle could save you the cost of a replacement.

For a while, there was a very good chance your trouble was caused by a bad capacitor, as millions of monitors, televisions, computers, and other electronic devices ended up being damaged or destroyed as a result of perhaps the costliest instance of industrial espionage to date. (TL;DR version: Scientist steals a secret formula for electrolyte used in fluid-filled capacitors from his Japanese employer and takes it to China; later, his staff steal the formula from him and defect to Taiwan, where Taiwanese manufacturers use it to manufacture tens of millions of capacitors. Unfortunately, at some point the formula was mis-copied, leaving out an ingredient or two; the resulting capacitors are prone to bursting.) The resulting capacitor plague spread throughout all sectors of the electronics industry in the mid- to late-2000s, resulting in billions of dollars in damage and repair costs. (Dell alone spent $420 million to repair or replace motherboards.) Most devices manufactured after 2007, though, are unlikely to contain any of the faulty electrolyte, and a number of vendors transitioned to using only more-expensive solid capacitors in their designs. For the past few years, capacitor plague-related failures have been few anbd far between.

If your monitor dates from the plague years -- roughly 2003 through 2007 -- then you should definitely look into replacing your capacitors. (If yours is a plagued machine, you should go ahead and replace all of them.) You can probably find a kit containing all the capacitors your make and model of monitor requires, along with instructions, schematics, and an alligator clip heatsink, somewhere in the $12 to $20 range. Search eBay or the web for "[make] [model] capacitors." The last I checked, there were hundreds of such kits available.

Even if your monitor isn't of the right vintage, it's worth checking for a failed capacitor, as they aren't that uncommon even at the best of times. Fortunately, they call them 'blown capacitors' for a reason: A failed capacitor will often bulge, rupture, leak, or actually explode, making visual identification relatively simple. (Check your manual, though; if your monitor boasts 'all solid caps,' you won't be able to tell a bad capacitor by looking. Of course, if it boasts 'all solid caps,' you probably aren't dealing with capacitor failure.)

How easy they are to replace is another matter. If you're fortunate, the caps will be attached to the circuit board using what is known as 'through-hole soldering.' That's your standard, old-school PCB manufacturing technique: traces terminate in circular copper pads with a hole in the center; the component's leads are fed through the hole, soldered in place, and clipped. To replace such a component, you'll first need to desolder the old one. The easiest way to do so is to touch a piece of desoldering wick -- think of a tennis shoe lace woven from copper wires -- against the pad and then use a soldering iron to heat the solder joint through the wick; once the solder melts, it will be, um, wicked into the wick, freeing the old component and leaving the pad free of solder.

Almost forgot.

Tutorial on replacing surface-mount components.
Dali's art always seemed pretty trippy to me. I was thinking maybe mushrooms, but sea urchins never occurred to me (who knew?). The fish sticks could work if they were served with a side dish of fresh mushrooms of the proper variety.
As for sea urchins...get the to your nearest sushi bar and order uni. I think it tastes ghastly, myself, but it's a small sacrifice to make for the sake of art. Besides, the Japanese believe it's an aphrodisiac.
hmmm... did parts 2 and 3 not come through, or were they simply clipped for space? If the former, let me know and I'll re-up. Thanks.
Your monitor is dead because the backlight is dead. That's why you can see images on it when you aim a light at it.

Capacitors can hold a serious charge, in TVs and amps you don't dick around for fear of a serious shock.. tube amps'll kill you if you dick it up.

Unless you have some sort of stellar giant screen, it's probably not worth the expense. Sorry, but they're basically disposable.
"Your monitor is dead because the backlight is dead. That's why you can see images on it when you aim a light at it."

Yes, but it's probably *not* the light itself (often -- especially in larger monitors, as Joe has -- there are actually two backlight panels, so to have both go out at the same time is unlikely). Instead, it is probably either the power supply or the secondary power supply for the backlight -- which in turn could easily be caused by a blown capacitor or fuse.

"Capacitors can hold a serious charge, in TVs and amps you don't dick around for fear of a serious shock.. tube amps'll kill you if you dick it up."

The voltages in flat-screens are typically far lower than those for CRTs or plasma TV sets. LCD monitors with LED backlights *don't* have capacitors that would possibly hold dangerous voltages after the monitors is disconnected from mains power; ones with CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights *might* hold a charge after being disconnected, especially in sizes > 32". Even then, though, most flatscreen power supplies have drain resistors to bleed off the stored charge within minutes, and the ones without resistors will typically discharge after a few hours. If Joe has been using his backup monitor for days, with the main, now-dead, monitor unplugged, he'd be at little risk.

Of course, he could also play it safe and bleed the caps using a discharge resistor or bulb. There's information available on on how to do so.

"Unless you have some sort of stellar giant screen, it's probably not worth the expense. Sorry, but they're basically disposable."

Um, the cost for me to repair three $300 monitors was $1.80 apiece -- well, actually about $5 each, factoring in the cost of spare components and shipping. Yes, they're essentially disposable (and I can hear component manufacturers laughing all the way to the bank) *if* your only other option is to pay a service professional to make the repair---

---but, then, so are a lot of things.

I'm typing this on a Dell Dimension that for several years was my most powerful PC, with a Core 2 Duo processor and 4 Gb of RAM. I found it sitting on the curb at the end of the block. I booted it up and learned why the original owner most likely had dumped it: It was so painfully slow as to be essentially unusable. The fix? Install XP instead of the Vista it came with. (I assume it was probably heavily virus-laden, as well, but I didn't have the patience to find out.)

The repair took me all of 20 minutes (well, I probably did a full format of the drive, so the process took longer than 20 minutes, but I probably burned no more than 20 minutes of brain time), and it cost me nothing. (Over the years, I'd purchased 5 or 6 XP licenses; I reused the activation code from a P4 machine I had decommissioned in 2004.)

To the original owner, his PC was disposable. For me, it was a valuable secondary system that's given me a number of years of solid service.
maz, thank you so much, and I am sorry that I didn't respond earlier today. It's been kind of a busy day.

I don't see much reason to be fearful of capacitors, as long as the power is disattached. I've handled all sorts of mobos and graphics cards -- switching cases and that sort of thing.

Alas, all of those old caps in my monitor have not the slightest whisper of a hint of a bulge or anything else amiss.

Oh, and you are definitely right about the fact that folks are too quick to toss old equipment away. Some folks down the street trashed their entire system. I took it home and stripped the parts. Turned out the hard drive was beset my one nasty virus. I kept it well away from my own system. Wiped the drive and "washed" it with some heavy-duty anti-virus and anti-rootkit apps. Result: An extra 750 gigs.

Alas, I just don't think I can save this monitor. Well, I'm stuck in the 17-inch world until I can earn enough for something new.

Oh, and parts 2 and 3 did NOT go through, maz. Sorry!

One other thing I forgot to add: That "trashed" computer I found was later transformed into a nice duo-core system for a lady I know. Just popped in her old hard drive and loaded up the RAM and off she went. I can't imagine her ever needing more power.
How can I "wipe" my hard drive? I replaced a dead hard drive in my laptop and like a fool immediately picked up a persistent virus trying to download an overpriced book for free (sucker). Since there's nothing critical I need on that barely used drive I'd like to erase it completely so that I can just redo the clean install of Windows 7 and start over. But it can't reformat the entire disk because a partition needs to be reserved for enough of the operating system to run the computer to do the task. Only thing I've seen that would work is to get a second hard drive to run the system while the first is wiped. But if I'm buying another hard drive I'd probably just use it instead and toss the viral laden one.
Easy, CBarr. Install the drive as the only drive in a computer with an optical drive (CD, DVD). Then run a windows installation disc. There will be an option to reformat everything.

You can borrow an installation disc if you don't have one. Or, you know, the darker areas fo the net....
The windows installation disk I bought is supposedly for new installations only. I'd read that I couldn't run it and do a clean install if there was already an operating system on my hard drive. But I guess there's nothing to lose by trying. Thanks.
for completeness' sake...


If you aren't lucky, you'll be dealing with surface-mount technology, which is as literal a term as 'through-hole.' In such a case, component leads are attached to, not through, the pad -- which not only means they need to be clipped to a precise length before being attached, but component placement and clearance are likely to be tight, as surface-mount designs are usually intended to be assembled by an automated device rather than by hand. Fortunately, though, if you do need to replace a blown cap, there are limits to how small a capacitor can be and still be able to carry sufficient charge, so even surface-mount components tend to be human-scale. (More on that in a moment.)

You can find a lot of information on capacitor diagnosis and repair at; they also sell capacitors and capacitor kits and offer a repair-by-mail service.

You should also search the web for information on your monitor make and model, just to see if there are known common failures. For instance, ten years ago I bought four 19" ViewSonic VX900 monitors. (I think I paid $280 apiece for two and, liking them, went back to Fry's the following weelk (after the sale had ended) and bought two more at $320 a pop.) They came with a one-year warranty, but I later learned for some reason ViewSonic had decided to extend coverage to three years. Had I known, that might have helped me some when, thirty-five months later, one monitor went dark; at the time, though, I was only using three of them, so I swapped in the spare -- only to lose a second monitor six months later, and a third a month after that.

Not wanting to toss $900 worth of what had recently been perfectly good monitors -- especially as all were seemingly suffering from the same malady, I boxed them up and dragged them with me through my next couple of moves. (Had I been in a position to replace them, financially, I wouldn't have had to move.) Once I'd finally found some sort of fiscal equilibrium, thaks to the convergence of rent control and a DoD contact, I started to see if there was anything I might do to revive them.

I quickly learned the VX900's had a design flaw that often resulted in one or both of a pair of fuses blowing on the secondary power supply that feeds the fluorescent backlight. (Like most flatscreen monitors, the VX900 consists of an LCD panel lit from behind by a cold-cathode fluorescent panel.). This was well-known enough of a problem that third-party vendors were offering replacement invertors that could be swapped with the original boards with no soldering required. At about $50 each, they were a bargain compared to the cost of replacing a monitor -- but still a bit rich for my blood.


Fortunately, one of the companies that offered such replacements also hosted detailed, step-by-step instructions on repairing the original power supply. (Most likely this was in hopes that, once you saw what was required, you'd go ahead and buy their module.) At the time having more time than money (or brains), I decided to try my hand at repair, figuring if I couldn't get the originals to work, I'd still have the option of replacing them.

From a forum discussion at another site, I learned what amperage fuse was required and who sold them in small quantities. (Since surface-mount components are intended for use by robotic assemblers, they typically come packaged on reels of perforated tape, each component affixed to the tape individuallly, with anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 components per reel.) I found a place offering them at $0.79 each. I ordered ten; with shipping, the total cost was around $15.

Remember how I said capacitors, at least, were constrained by the laws of physics as to how small they could become? Well, I wasn't dealing with capacitors, I was dealing with fuses -- and while I expect they, too, are limited to a minimum functional size, that minimum is several orders of magnitude smaller than those for capacitors. Just how small are we talking about? Take a look. That is a standard, unaltered Lincoln penny; the little green thing beside it the fuse. At each end of the fuse is a C-shaped area of silvery (white, in this photograph) metal: Those are the leads.

So, in order to repair a monitor, all I had to do was desolder the old, blown fuse and replace it with a new one, attaching each end to its own soldering pad, without overheatinjg the fuse or allowing solder either to touch the green part of the fuse or bridge the space between the two pads.


For each monitor.

As I recall, it took me about 15 hours, total: disassembling the monitor, replacing the fuses, reassembling the monitor, testing it, and repeating as necessary until all three were again functional. In the process, I lost one fuse and destroyed two more, leaving me with one to spare.

...which is a good thing, as one of my repaired monitors -- or perhaps it was the one that hadn't needed to be fixed -- recently went once more to black. It seems the problem with repairing, not replacing, the ViewSonic power supply is that doing so does nothing to alleviate the inherent design flaw, leaving the replacement fuses vulnerable to failure....

cbarr, if you just want to wipe the drive, you can use an old XP disc. Or you can make a system disc using any functioning Windows 7 system.

maz, I haven't read all of that yet, but...THANK YOU!
The IT support folks at my company use freeware KillDisk to wipe hard drives clean. I've also used it on my own PCs when they've become infected or just too bogged down with crap. KillDisk overwrites all the sectors with zeroes, which prevents recovery of any data. Then you just start again by installing the OS.
Fixing my Samsung didn't take 15 hours. Don't be discouraged by some of these horror stories.
Anonymous - My 15 hours wasn't a horror story; in fact, I was pretty damn pleased with myself. But mine wasn't a case of swapping out a blown, through-hole capacitor; instead, I had to replace two SMD fuses, each far smaller than a grain of rice, on each monitor. (To do so, I used one of those 'helping hands' jigs from Radio Shack with a mounted magnifying glass and a small LED flashlight in its claws pointed at the fuse. On top of that I wore a pair of 2x [3x?] reading glasses -- and even then I had to take regular breaks to rest my eyes.)

That 15 hours was to repair three monitors, as well -- and included the time it took to desolder and replace several fuses I'd managed to destroy.

I'd done some electronics repair work prior to attempting this repair -- oh, a total of maybe two dozen times in fifty years. Maybe three of those two dozen times my work didn't suck: I was an astoundingly crappy solderer. (I'm much better at it now.)

The important message to take away is this: If I managed to pull this off, *anyone* could do so.
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Liz, lies, war and more

Lizmania. Talk of an Elizabeth Warren candidacy is getting serious. This piece in the New Republic is obviously designed to push her into taking the plunge. I'm not sure, though, that the psychological buttons which work on other people will also work on her.

One thing's certain: Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. One can point to her and say: "This president does not represent this party, at least not all of this party." Warren has come to stand for something that Hillary Clinton should stand for -- but, alas, does not.

(The Christian Science Monitor discusses the perception that Warren may be the Ted Cruz of the left. No. That is so wrong. The left has nothing this.)

Although I would love to see Warren in the White House, I think that it is even more important to see her lead a movement to restore the Democratic party to its core values. As I mentioned in last night's post, this new movement needs a name.

(It also needs a clear statement of goals. A manifesto. A narrow focus. A plan. And, dare I say it, a hierarchy. Let's have no more otiose "Occupy"-style pseudo-movements which flail around without aims or leadership. That shit has been tried and it failed.)

Fake news story of the day. This one's hilarious: The New York Post wants us to believe that "Sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman tried to seduce whistleblower Edward Snowden on orders straight from the Kremlin, according to a defector."

Why? Why on earth? Is she supposed to convince him to defect to Russia? He's already in Russia.

The KGB defector in this case is one Boris Karpichkov. I hope Boris provides us with similar amusements in the future. For his next trick, perhaps he'll tell us that he's the grandson of Tsar Nicholas II. (No, wait: That's been done.)

Syrian war fakes. There have been so many that we now have a wiki-style page devoted to sorting them out. Maybe there should be a link to this image, which attributes the following bogus quote to Maram Susli: "Gas the kikes. Race war now."

Financial apocalypse watch. In a recent post, I noted that I'm keeping track of the growing number of commentators who offer dire warnings of a new economic collapse. Here's another one. It comes from one of the UK's most astute observers, Robin Ramsay:
On 21 October financial journalist, author and occasional Lobster contributor Dan Atkinson sent out an e-mail:
‘Main story headline in yesterday’s edition of City AM : “The City is back: Number of people working in London’s financial sector soars past its pre-crash peak” So how’s that “re-balanced economy” working out for you all?’
Indeed: it’s the same old same old. The City is booming, so London and the southeast is booming and migrants flock to London to service the people with the money. The global gamblers are still gambling; debt and derivative volumes are still rising. We are heading for another big crash and this time the state will not be able to bail out the UK bank.
The false confession theory. In the past, I've opined that the CIA employed torture not to produce usable intelligence but to produce false confessions -- an idea that many others have voiced over the years. This theory is gaining ground. In fact, it's far more than a mere theory.

First, we have this piece, which points out that the most telling details are to be found not in the Senate Intelligence Committee report (the one everyone is talking about) but in another report entirely, produced by the Senate Arms Services Committee.
Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:
The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes.
Next, we go to this McClatchy story from 2009 (which I think I discussed in a previous post):
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003.
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration...
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
Why did this 2009 story receive less publicity than the more recent Intel Committee report? For one thing, the new report is more easy shaped into a narrative that flatters American prejudices: Yes, we "tortured some folks," but we did it for the right reasons: To protect the citizens of the United States. The 2009 report, by contrast, said the unthinkable: We tortured people so that they would offer false confessions that could be used to justify a war.

The second narrative is not the one that the Powers That Be want to see preserved for posterity in high school history books.

Hey, hey, APA: How many folks did you torture today? For more on the "false confession" theory, see this Truthout article from 2011, which discusses the shrinks who helped the Agency do what it did. Take special note of this passage:
While they were still under contract to the CIA, the two men formed the “consulting” firm Mitchell, Jessen & Associates in March 2005. The “governing persons” of the company included Kearns’ former boss, Aldrich, SERE contractor David Tate, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association...
(Emphasis added.) A few days ago, I noted that the APA condemns any psychologist who participates in torture. As a reader correctly added, that's the line which the APA takes now.

The big footnote. Sam Husseini, in a HuffPo piece published yesterday, endorses the false confession theory. He found an interesting footnote in the Intel Committee's report:
Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:

"Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: 'Egyptian'] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa'ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely 'Egyptians'], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III." Of course, Volume III has not been made public.

So, while CIA head John Brennan now says it's "unknowable" if torture led to information that actually saved lives, it's provable that torture led to information that helped lead to war and destroyed lives.

Nor was al-Libi the only one tortured to try to make the case for war.
Looks like a truth which could be told in detail in 2009 is now something to be whispered in a footnote. Of course, 2009 was a rare year. Things could be said then that can't be said now.

It's amazing how hard we have to fight for our own past. The "false confession" theory is, at this point, pretty much a proven fact -- yet you can bet the rent money that this theory won't make it into your kid's American history textbook. Suggested title for said textbook: We are AWESOME!

Awesome coincidence! I wrote the preceding paragraph just a few minutes before I decided to check out Bob Parry's site. Lo and behold...
At least since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, any substantive criticism of the United States has been treated as unpatriotic.

Indeed, a journalist or a politician who dares point out any fundamental flaws in the country or even its actual history can expect to have his or her patriotism challenged. That is how debate over “how we’re not awesome” is silenced.

Fox News may be the poster child of this anti-intellectualism but the same sentiments can be found on the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages or in the higher-brow New Republic. If you dare point out that America or one of its favored “allies” has done some wrong around the world, you’re an enemy “apologist.” If you regularly adopt a critical stance, you will be marginalized.
I'll add this: Anyone who continuously feels compelled to insist on his greatness must feel awfully insecure. That's true of individuals, and I think that something similar can be said of nations.
United Front Against Austerity (UFAA:

Do you find yourself gazing wistfully at portraits of Franklin Roosevelt?

Review the following [New Deal Democratic Party Platform] for economic reform: if you agree with most or all of these measures, you might be a New Deal Democrat. Don't panic – there are many millions like you. Please visit to learn about the symptoms and to get help.

• A 1% Wall Street Sales Tax on derivatives, stocks & bonds
• Nationalization of the Federal Reserve to issue long-term, interest-free credit for infrastructure and industry
• A nationwide freeze on foreclosures and student loans
• Bankruptcy and re-regulation for zombie banks
• A 10% protective tariff on ALL imports
• Parity – a fair price guarantee for farmers
• Medicare for All
• Stronger Social Security
I suspect Mitchell and Jessen, now that their names are known, will need to spend a large portion of their blood money on personal security.

The radical Islamists are not exactly known for their sweet, forgiving attitudes.
Dire warnings of economic collapse? David Stockman explains how we got into this mess, and why the house of cards is teetering;
There's no indication that Elizabeth Warren wants or has any plan to run for the WH in 2016. Which is a good thing because she would not win. Her strength is exactly in what she's been doing this week: stoking the conscience of the Democratic Party, reminding the sell-outs that primary representation of corporate/financial interests is in direct opposition to Party principles: supporting the country's middle-class/working class, the backbone of the Nation. Without a vital, healthy middle-class all things fall apart.

I listened to Moran [a self-defined liberal] this morning decry Warren's objections of the Wall St. Bailout Amendment as a form of grandstanding. Look at the funding for NIH, he said. Look at the funding we got for R&D and infrastructure.

What does any of that mean if we allow the banks to roll us into another financial abyss, to insist that the US taxpayer backstop risky, toxic speculation? There are some trade-offs we cannot afford to make. More shocking still is the likes of a Jamie Dimon calling legislators, whipping the vote. I don't know what the hell that is but it has nothing to do with what the Democratic Party supposedly represents.

As for lies? That appears to be the country's stock and trade right now. When crooks and liars are never prosecuted, never called out for wrong-doing, we encourage more bad actors, pushing the honest brokers to the sideline who simply cannot compete when the game is rigged. The press bangs the drum for the status quo and the public drowns in propaganda.

The Democratic Party can go with the flow or buck the corrosive elements. The President has already staked his position--with the crooks.

Something about Warren just rubs me the wrong way. I can see the word fake all over her. I am sure I will not vote for.
When you say no more Occupy movements, I hope you don't exclude street activism, because the Elite are not going to surrender as a mere result of polite parliamentary mannered arguments, not that Obama and Biden wouldn't try and squash those.
"Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. "

And it's the same chumps that gave us Obama. At least they are in the opposition now. Fools before, maybe learned something.

Not that I am believing too much of what she says. Let's see her stop something before she's claimed for real.
"Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. "

And it's the same chumps that gave us Obama. At least they are in the opposition now. Fools before, maybe learned something.

Not that I am believing too much of what she says. Let's see her stop something before she's claimed for real.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

It needs a name

Slate: Tea Party Democrats -- Does President Obama have a rebellion brewing in his ranks? The piece is mostly about Elizabeth Warren opposition to CRomnibus. (As mentioned in an earlier post; scroll down.)

Salon: Elizabeth Warren goes to war: Why the Democratic Party could seriously change — for real, this time. This piece says that Warren has given "the anti-neoliberal wing within the party, which has been growing in strength since the 2008 financial collapse, a direction and a voice."

Yeah, but it doesn't have a name. "Tea Party Dems" won't do. A movement can't be a movement unless and until it has a name. In the past, I've suggested "New Deal"...
Dr. Jill Stein ran on a "Green New Deal" platform in 2012. How about "Go Green in 2016"?
" anti-neoliberal wing within the party"

Maybe party definitions should begin with what they 'aren't', but I'm still skeptical.

See Craig Murray and Russel Brand being marginalized.

Anon (and by the way, YOU could use a name yourself!) what I like about "green" are the possibilities for clever rhymes. But green says "environmentalism" and I want a name that says "economic justice." Also, "green" is redolent of all things euro, and we need something 100 percent Amurrkin. Like "tea party." But not THAT.
Anybody who knows anything already knows what "New Deal Democrat" stands for. The opposition can't redefine it. And it shows that the current Democratic Party leadership has lost its way. We're now six years into the Greatest Depression. Why not use the name of the anti Bankster movement that steered us out of the previous generational financial calamity? The framing is already in place, Art Deco in fact. It's foolish not to use it. Maybe the little Monopoly Board Man will help out and run again for the Republicans.
New Deal Democrats
Has the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" brand been totally debased?
It has a name, Joe. FDR Democrats and/or New Deal 2,0 Democrats.

How about ReDeal Democrats?
What if we just throw it right in their faces and call it the Union wing of the Democratic Party or even just the Union Party?
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Stephen Colbert interviews a noted conservative

Sorry, wrong monster for the times.

Considering what the neoconservative monsters are are doing--torture, Syria, Russia-- you have to wonder why they made the thing a goldbug "Rand Paul" loving "Conservative" rather than a REAL monster.
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Let's return to the bad old days...

First and foremost, let me say that I was very impressed by yesterday's walkout of congressional staffers protesting the recent outrages involving the police. An excellent first step.

CRominbus. Bravo to Elizabeth Warren for opposing a bill which will roll back the Dodd-Frank reforms and allow the Wall Streeters to go back to the situation before 2008. Those reforms were themselves hardly sufficient -- but if we can't preserve Dodd-Frank, what hope is there for something better?

Bravo, as well, to Nancy Pelosi for standing with Warren.
It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus. This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision.
Are the Dems finally starting to act like Democrats? I'm pretty sure that Boehner is going to get his way on this in the end, but he must be fought, and Obama isn't going to fight him.

A bit more on the campaign finance part...
The bill would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. Bottom line: A donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit.
Good lord, but this bill reeks.

And speaking of things that reek: This bill also prevents the EPA from regulating methane emissions from livestock. As you know, cattle farts contribute massively to global warming.

(Not to worry. Republican Jim Inhofe, who will probably head the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says that global warming is actually good for human beings. At least he's not denying that it's real!)

And here's another goody in this bill:
The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.
Of course, Israel will never allow any kind of agreement -- Israel's actions over the past few decades have made this fact very clear. Alas, I doubt very much that Nancy Pelosi will fight against this portion of the CRomnibus.

But at least she is fighting to maintain Dodd-Frank -- and yes, I'm aware of how frustrating it is to have to fight for something that was so infuriatingly insufficient to begin with. Maxine Waters has taken a strong stand against the continuing resolution...
She was aided in this by a number of impassioned speeches in the Democratic caucus, including one from civil-rights hero Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who referenced his participation in the March on Washington 50 years ago. “I wanted to know [then] which side the federal government was on,” said Lewis. “I wanted to know 50 years later which side is the Democratic caucus on? Is it on the side of the people or Wall Street and the big banks?
But the White House still supports the bill, on the grounds that any deal made with the next (Republican-controlled) Senate will surely be much worse. Not a bad argument. But here's the counter-argument...
As Corrine Brown of Florida told The Daily Beast while almost holding back tears, “I think we care about all the people who lost their homes during the foreclosure and you giving the banks the opportunity to do it again, not one of them went to jail.”

The concern wasn’t just centered around ideological opposition but political calculus as well. As [Oregon Representative Pete] DeFazio told reporters, “You know, if I go home and say, ‘I had to vote to give new special interests to billionaires and the big Wall Street banks even though people in my district are still hurting because otherwise we would have had a [90-day continuing resolution],’ you know what they’re gonna say? What the hell is a 90-day continuing resolution? You did that for Wall Street and the rich people and we’re done with you Dems.”
Bless Pete DeFazio. Why isn't he running for President? Why isn't he President right now? He understands a fact which has always eluded Obama: If you can't stand for something, people will decide that they can't stand you.

Another crash? Dodd-Frank or no Dodd-Frank, there are those who say that we are heading toward another 2008-style crash. At this time, I consider these doomsayers to be outliers and fringe-dwellers. The doomsayers are with us always. If you keep saying "The Big Bad Thing will happen this year" every single year, eventually there will be a year when something truly big and bad happens and you will look like a prophet.

Nevertheless, I'm starting to get a bit spooked. At this writing, the doomsayers seem louder and more strident than normal.

Take this guy, for example...
In the current instance, we are not even talking about garden variety leverage. We live in a world where leverage is leveraged, leveraged again and again and again. We have personal, public, and “private” (OTC) leverage. The garden variety leverage is bad enough as is sovereign leverage, but the real problem are derivatives piled on top of derivatives with collateral which in many cases no longer even exists.
While I originally thought about talking of Venezuela and Ukraine today, and making a comparison and wondering which one will bankrupt first, it dawned on me ...the current bubble is busting right now!
Look what is currently happening. The reflation of the reflation of U.S. real estate is failing. Oil has deflated 40%+++. High yield credit is in an outright crash and already at record “wides” to Treasuries. The euro and yen have deflated drastically...even against gold. The Chinese stock market dropped over 5% last night, this is like a 900 point drop in the Dow. They changed their “collateral rules” and now only AAA and AA credits can be used as collateral. While speaking of China, let’s not forget their shadow banking system which has basically now been frozen solid. Commodities across the board have been hammered lower while growth rates across the globe (except of course the U.S. as we lie about every economic report) have either slowed drastically or turned negative. The “reflation” is clearly failing! There is no way around it, we are watching a credit contraction unfold.
Hey, do you remember when the Randroids were warning us all that hyper-inflation was right around the corner? Remember when Fox News was giving all of that air time to Jonathan Lebed and his phoney-baloney National Inflation Association? Remember when we were all told that a potato would soon cost twenty bucks? Remember all that stuff?
Quite simply, we have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time where leverage of over 100 to (probably 1,000 to one when all is said and done) has been employed for control. The recent volatility suggests that control is finally being lost. If this is true and I firmly believe it is, we are on the doorstep of the worst financial panic event in all of human history. The sad part is the humanity. Only a small percentage of the global population ever even played in this game but everyone will be affected by it!
The fellow who wrote that is named Bill Holter. He's with Miles Franklin, the precious metals firm in Minnesota. I hope he's wrong. Keep in mind: Gold bugs are always crying doom. Doom, or at least the perception of doom, is good for their business.
Nice comprehensive summary with wide-angle lens, Joseph.

We (US) are way too ethnocentric to see the wider implications. Now if Warren proves to be 'truly needy' in her angst about Banksters (Jamie Dimon lobbied Congress heavily) I will give her another look. For now, 'methinks she doth protest too much"

"(W)e have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time". This is true.

Meanwhile, the Australian government led by 'shirtfronter' Tony Abbott promises to sell uranium and coal to the Ukraine...

At least it was amusing when Abbott said that Putin, who has led Russia with a strong hand since 2000, has "an opportunity (...) to be a statesman as well as a patriot".

Here you go, Vlad, old chap, here's your chance to make something of yourself. You won't get better advice than you'll get from Tony!
The watering down of Dodd-Frank has appalling consequences for financial markets, yet it pales beside the global push for bank bail-ins.

ZeroHedge also has some interesting charts on the chances of GFC2.
Bubbles always end in crashes. The real question, in my mind, is whether a crash will result in another liquidity crisis in the financial system. If the derivatives regulations in Dodd-Frank are scuppered this is almost guaranteed, along with another bankster bailout, more money being printed and zero interest rates extending far into the future. The result will be another round of taxpayer funded speculation and new bubbles to pop.

The odds of our politicians doing the right thing, in this circumstance, by nationalizing the insolvent banks, is just about zero.
So, yesterday and probably throughout the weekend we'll have to listen to the torture apologists and now this--something like $700 trillion in derivatives of which US banks own 95% is now backed by the US taxpayer. That's about 10x the world's entire GDP and the US is on the hook because the banks rule the world.

We don't stand for anything anymore because everything's for sale: the country, the sacrosanct Constitution and . . . the soul of our people. Lock, stock and barrel, it all belongs to the highest bidder. Jamie Dimon, one of the head crooks whispers and captured pols fall in line, including POTUS, the cave-in king.

Rome is in our future. And Capitalism? It just put its greed head in the noose.

Merry Christmas!

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