Archive for March, 2012

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.

– More…


To the Chinese and the Indians go … the spoils of war

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

– Ah, where did all those billions spent on Afghanistan go and what were they for?   So the Chinese and others could come in and reap the mineral wealth of the country and the Afghan women could be returned to the Taliban for another round of fundamentalist abuse.   Beautiful work USA.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The money and blood pit that is Afghanistan – where the United States and Britain have spent more than 2100 lives and £302 billion ($580 billion) – is about to pay a dividend.

But it won’t be going to the countries which have made this considerable sacrifice. The contracts to open up Afghanistan’s mineral and fossil-fuel wealth, and to build the railways that will transport it out of the country, are being won or pursued by China, India, Iran, and Russia.

The potentially lucrative task of exploiting Afghanistan’s immense mineral wealth – estimated to be worth around £2 trillion, according to the Kabul Government – is only in the early stages. But already China and India in particular are doing deals and beginning work.

Facilities already established are being protected by local army and police, part of whose funding, and most of whose training, has been a US/British responsibility.

– More…


The Middle Class Really Is in a Three-Decade Slump

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

– I’ve heard/read this before; that the average working man in the USA has seen what he/she can buy with their wages drop year by year ever since the mid-70’s.    Where might all that money be going?   Ask the 1%.

– Dennis

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

Did middle-class incomes really decouple from overall economic growth in the mid-’70s? If you look at median family income vs. GDP per capita, the answer is yes. From 1950 through 1975, both grew at about the same rate. After that, median family income grew quite a bit more slowly than GDP per capita.

But wait! You need to make sure to calculate inflation the same way for both measures. And maybe GDP per capita is a bad measure. Plus you need to account for health insurance and other benefits when you calculate median income. And the number of people per household has changed over time. These are all legitimate issues. So Lane Kenworthy redrew the chart to compare apples to apples: median household income vs. average household income. Medianincome shows only the movement of households that are smack in the middle of the middle class, while average income is similar to overall economic growth since it depends on total national income.

In the chart below, the black lines are the original comparison. The red lines are the new comparison. As you can see, there’s really not much difference. “Decoupling,” say Kenworthy, “is real and sizable.” The rich really are hoovering up a much bigger share of national income than they used to. The only thing left to argue about is why, not whether.

– To the article and its charts…



Chinese economic crash could create big bang

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Anyone who stands in the middle of Guangzhou’s high-rise district and looks up is liable to suffer dizziness.

The 600m Canton Tower, China’s tallest structure, sits across the Pearl River from several other newly-constructed giants, including the 103-storey International Finance Centre. The sensation is akin to strolling through a forest of enormous metal trees.

If the Chinese economy – represented by these vertiginous monuments – does fall to earth, one cannot help thinking that it would create a very large bang indeed; one that would be felt in every corner of the earth.

And fears have been spreading in recent months that China might be heading for precisely such a scenario. Economic indicators have been flashing red in recent months. There has been a sharp drop in residential property prices and a succession of disappointing car and retail sales figures.

But the most alarming news came at the weekend with the revelation by the customs department that China experienced a dramatic fall in exports in February.

Much of this was attributable to the Chinese New Year holiday, when factories traditionally shut down.

But concerns have also grown that China – the world’s workshop – is beginning to suffer from falling demand from Europe and America. China’s gigantic export sector is simultaneously the source of China’s strength and also its great weakness. Even the most prosperous of shops cannot remain in business if its customers decide to stop buying.

– More…


All red meat is bad for you, new study says

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

A long-term study finds that eating any amount and any type increases the risk of premature death

Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.

For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published onlineMonday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Crunching data from thousands of questionnaires that asked people how frequently they ate a variety of foods, the researchers also discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.

– More…


Could a NOSH-Aspirin-a-Day Keep Cancer Away?

Monday, March 12th, 2012


The humble aspirin may soon have a new role. Scientists from The City College of New York have developed a new aspirin compound that has great promise to be not only an extremely potent cancer-fighter, but even safer than the classic medicine cabinet staple.

The new designer aspirin curbed the growth of 11 different types of human cancer cells in culture without harming normal cells, reported a team from the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education of The City College of New York in a paper published this month in the journal ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. The cancers controlled included colon, pancreatic, lung, prostate, breast, and leukemia. “The key components of this new compound are that it is very, very potent and yet it has minimal toxicity to the cells,” said Associate Professor Khosrow Kashfi, the principal investigator.

The aspirin compound also shrank human colon cancer tumors by 85 percent in live animals, again without adverse effects, according to a second paper in press by the City College researchers and colleague Kenneth Olson of Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend. Their results will appear in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, now available online.  “If what we have seen in animals can be translated to humans,” said Professor Kashfi, “it could be used in conjunction with other drugs to shrink tumors before chemotherapy or surgery.”

– More…

– Research Thanks to Tony H.

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

– I love the irony.   Our ‘superiors’ tell us to be good little girls and boys; stand in line, no pushing, wait your turns.   And, they are off like shots racing for the prizes they convinced all of us to wait patiently for.   Fool me once, shame on you.   Fool me twice, shame on me.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lowerclass individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lowerclass individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

– To the study paper, itself:  

– Thanks to New Zealand’s National Radio program, ‘This Way Up’, for alerting me to this study.

– For an audio clip of the ‘This Way Up‘ episode, see Naked Science on 10 March 2012:  


The way it is 08 March 2012

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Our culture is based on two things; television and petroleum. Whether you are Pootie or the president, your world depends on an unbroken supply of both. So, it is a small wonder that we all watch a televised global war for oil as brain-wave entertainment. As a consequence, we receive the conditioning required to sustain our acceptance of the sate brutality occurring at the edges of the empire in the quest for oil. How much of this convenient symbiosis linking corporate television, wars as a corporate profit center, and corporate oil was consciously planned we can never know until we are redeemed from the blinding effects of the corporate sponsored hologram.

We live in an age of corporate domination just as we once lived in an age of domination by royal families, kings and war lords. From inside the hologram there is no history, no memory, no way to equate the tribute rendered to the credit card companies, the insurance companies, the IRS, the power cartels, and the home mortgage banks with the kind of debt bondage they actually represent. Yet we must pay such tribute to be allowed to survive in our society, even if that tribute is a trailer payment at usury rates or allowing a credit card company access to our medical insurance payment history. We must trade liberty and privacy in increments for comfort and perceived security. That has been the devil’s bargain from the beginning. If middle-class Americans do not feel threatened by the slow encroachment of the police state or the Patriot Act, it is because they live comfortably enough and exercise their liberties very lightly, never testing the boundaries. You never know you are in prison unless you try the door.

– by Joe Bageant from his book, “Deer Hunting for Jesus”