Archive for July, 2011

Hacker group Anonymous declares war on Orlando, Florida

Friday, July 8th, 2011

The hacker group Anonymous has taken down a US tourism website in Orlando, Florida as a protest against the arrests of people handing out food to the city’s homeless.

Anonymous said the attack on was retaliation for the arrest of members of the group Food not Bombs.

The website, which is not owned by the city, went offline for part of Tuesday.

Anonymous rose to prominence by hacking the sites of major corporations.

Anonymous is often seen as a political collective and has pledged to take action against those its members view as acting improperly.

They have been linked to several high-profile web attacks, including several on Sony websites as well as the Church of Scientology.

– More…

Thousands plan to leave Christchurch – poll

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

– Even though the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and atomic plant events have grabbed the world’s attention, the things that have been going on down here in New Zealand to Christchurch are still huge to this nation and people.

– dennis

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

More than half of the voters in a Stuff-Press online poll say they are planning on leaving Christchurch – or would if they weren’t tied to the city by their properties or jobs.

Forty thousand people voted on the unscientific poll and 64 per cent said they wanted to leave the city or didn’t know what to do.

Christchurch has been shaken by three severe quakes since September and many people have packed up and left.

Twenty-one per cent of the people who responded to the poll said they planned to leave the city and 26 per cent said they would if it was not for their properties or jobs.

Another 3.5 per cent said they were prepared to walk away from their houses.

The poll asked whether people were planning to leave Christchurch, if they would if it wasn’t for their properties or jobs, whether they plan to stay in the city and if they are unsure of what to do.

Thirty-six per cent said they did not want to leave and just over 13 per cent said they did not know what to do.

Clinical psychologist Corina Grennell said people should leave if they felt it was their best option, but she questioned whether there was anywhere in the world that was safe.

Her house was on a tilt and a large crack ran underneath it. The Grennell family was determined to stay, but wanted to move to another suburb.

Pam and James Kelly moved to New Zealand six years ago to give their family a better life, but the quakes had taken their toll on the family of four, forcing them to return to Scotland.

The Kellys’ story mirrors thousands throughout the city, where people have decided enough is enough, packed up their belongings and left for more stable ground.

May recorded the largest exodus to Australia in one month since 1979 and that was partly attributed to Christchurch residents fleeing the city after the February earthquake.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said he was not worried about an exodus.

“The vast majority of people in this city love it,” he said.

“We know we will get through this stage. We will rebuild our communities. Some may not be in the same places though.”

– to the original…

It’s evening in America

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

– It’s the same story I keep telling here – but this time from Canada.

– From Margaret Wente, in the Canadian Globe and Mail

– dennis

– – – – – – – – – –


Toronto and Chicago are the two cities I know best, and I love them both. But Chicago is superior in almost every way. It’s an architectural marvel, public transit is terrific, and taxis and museums are abundant and cheap. On a bright summer day, when the skyscrapers glitter against the dazzling blue Midwestern sky, there’s no finer place to be.

Chicago’s hospitals are terrific, too. That’s where I spent much of the past week, visiting a family member who’s ill. The city’s hospitals make our hospitals look like slums. They’re gleaming, spotless and staffed with friendly, smiling people who treat patients like hotel guests. There are only two patients to a room, and if you ask for something, you can get it right away. Their hospitals seem to have twice as many nurses as ours do, and three times more computers.

Of course, all these nice things don’t come cheap. The hospital where my family member stayed charges $1,525 a day, and that’s just for the room. Every pill and blood test costs extra. Her hospital stay probably will wind up costing twice as much as it would in Canada, with approximately the same outcome. Fortunately, she has health insurance.

The medical-industrial complex is the biggest and fastest growing business in America. In fact, it’s about the only business in America that’s growing. In some parts of the country, health care is the No. 1 employer. Chicago is strewn with well-staffed hospital campuses that offer the latest treatments and technologies, at a price that American society can no longer afford.

But Chicago, for all its appearance of prosperity, is in the middle of a train wreck. Since the financial meltdown, house prices have plunged 35 per cent. The state of Illinois is all but broke. One former governor is in jail, and another one is heading there. This week, the bizarrely coiffed Rod Blagojevich (whose hair alone should be illegal) was found guilty on numerous corruption counts, including trying to peddle Barack Obama’s former Senate seat. No one was surprised at the verdict except him. As one insider was quoted as saying, “You could cut off his head, and he wouldn’t be any dumber.”

In defending himself, Mr. Blagojevich seemed to suggest he was no more corrupt than any other politician. With that, Chicagoans heartily agree. Most other Americans would, too. There’s a widespread feeling among ordinary people that their leaders have betrayed them. And they’re right. In Washington, Democrats and Republicans are playing chicken over the deadline to raise the debt ceiling, and neither side has a serious plan to fix the problem.

The failure of leadership extends far beyond the political elites. It includes the entire health-industrial complex, where the rewards for high-tech medicine and “breakthroughs” are extremely high. Medical corruption, influence-peddling and the inflation of research results are serious problems, although they rarely make front-page news. This week, for example, a group of doctors issued a bombshell report accusing some of the country’s leading surgeons of fudging the results of clinical trials involving a new product widely used in spinal surgery. The surgeons, the group said, overstated the benefits and failed to report serious complications, including male sterility and cancer.

The product, called Infuse Bone Graft, brings in around $700-million in annual sales for its maker, Medtronic, Inc. (Fifteen of the surgeons, incidentally, collectively received at least $62-million from Medtronic for unrelated work.) It’s extremely rare for a group of doctors to repudiate their colleagues’ research. As the whistleblowers wrote, “it harms patients to have unaccountable special interests permeate medical research.” Yet, the health industry is made up of special interests, all fighting to rig the system to their advantage. And no wonder. The stakes are enormous: Americans spend $2.5-trillion a year on health care.

I used to feel exhilarated by my home country’s dynamism and ingenuity. These days, I mainly feel depressed. Despite its phenomenal talent and brainpower, the U.S. shows no sign of being able to solve its most basic problems. And one of those problems is that people don’t get rich from making things any more. Instead, they get rich from transactions (lawyers) or manipulating financial products (investment bankers), or from the Internet casino. The other problem is that any country that squanders so much money on health care can’t possibly compete with China or Brazil. As Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, put it, America’s out-of-control health spending is “like a tapeworm eating at our economic body.”

These days, I always re-enter Canada with a feeling of relief. Our architecture may be second-rate, and our hospitals are shabby. We have a health-care problem, too. But it seems to me our problems can be solved, and theirs can’t. Chicago is a great place to visit. But I wouldn’t want to live there.

– to the original…