05.29.10

Classic American Nonsense

Posted in Stumble and Fail, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 12:23 pm by George Smith

One of the recurring themes on DD blog is the massively annoying American delusion that we live in a can-do country, that our technology and business and people have an answer for everything.

Always.

It’s rubbish. Reality shows us repeatedly it’s not so, many times over the last decade. From alleged miracle weapons for the Iraq war, to Katrina, to even the smallest pieces of crappenstance like the underwear bomber’s smouldering privates, the world outside has shown Americans definitively what for.

So, another weak piece from this weekend’s New York Times contains two unintentionally hilarious, cosnidering this late date, paragraphs:

Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us — it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced.

“Americans have a lot of faith that over the long run technology will solve everything, a sense that somehow we’re going to find a way to fix it,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. He said Pew polling in 1999 — before the September 2001 terror attacks — found that 64 percent of Americans pessimistically believed that a terrorist attack on the United States probably or definitely would happen. But they were naïvely optimistic about the fruits of technology: 81 percent said there would be a cure for cancer, 76 percent said we would put men on Mars.

They just figured this out, huh?

One of DD’s touchstone books is Paul Fussell’s BAD.

In 1991, Fussell saw the future quite clearly.

“The United States especially overflows with [BAD] because above all countries it is the most addicted to self-praise and complacency — even more than France,” he wrote.

Further in: “And what’s made it worse is the recent rapid accumulation of technology. The current US can be defined as an immense accumulation of not terribly acute or attentive people obliged to operate a uniquely complex technology, which, all other things being equal, always wins. No wonder error and embarrassment lurk everywhere …”

On engineering, and this is very much pre-World Wide Web and instant global communication, Fussell had this to say:

If pressed, Americans may admit that the ideas that have made the modern world have all originated elsewhere — ideas like Darwin’s and Marx’s and Freud’s and Einstein’s and Jung’s — and never in These States. Our forte, which compensates for our weakness in creative intelligence, is held to be in engineering. Perhaps deficient in a comprehensive understanding of values and ends, we are said to be gifted in the management of techniques and means.

===

The American achievement — and I know it’s bad taste to mention this — is the Challenger, brought to you by faulty manufacture, inept and dishonest quality control, and lying and evasion for the sake of big bucks.

===

People as materialistic as Americans are supposed to be gifted at material operations, but the local urge toward the showy and spectacular constantly invites disaster … Bad design and construction, in fact, appear to be something like American specialties.

Chalk part of the rugged idiot belief that technology will save everything to bad — or at least incomplete — education.

After having spent close to a decade of my best learning years in a research lab and seeing the multifarious ways things could and did go wrong — how the toast often landed buttered side down, despite the best laid plans, I had no personal illusions about what science and technology could deliver in the short term. And that was on small scale shit.

A Fun Ride to the Colossal Fail

Posted in Stumble and Fail, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 8:47 am by George Smith

Upper class reporters sometimes write very strangely in their zeal to cover the news.

Such was the case with a surprising story in the New York Times yesterday. It was on a scientific boat ride out to the very bad oceanic chemistry demonstration that’s the Gulf Oil spill. And I call it surprising, not because of what was reported, but how it was reported — like being in with the regatta crowd to gaily observe a curious experiment at sea.

At the site of a disaster of Biblical proportion, the reporter — Justin Gillis — wrote:

Soon, a giant winch on the rear of the boat hauled special bottles back from the deep, carrying water samples. The younger researchers rushed to the rear deck.

Special bottles? The younger researchers were rushing!

Exciting!

And:

Working quickly in a daisy chain, circling the bottles, they filled small vials and other containers, then hustled back to their makeshift laboratory on the main deck of the Walton Smith.

Slowly, as the Walton Smith and other boats worked the gulf this past week, the weird physics of a deep-water well blowout came into better focus. The idea that oil rises quickly to the surface of an ocean may be one of the casualties of this disaster.

They hustled! And there was the delving into of “weird physics.”

Then the meant-to-sound-gnomic-quote:

“Nothing really makes sense out here,” Dr. Joye said as her ship plowed through orange slicks of oil.

Then even more excitement at the finish:

From the bridge of the ship, Capt. Shawn Lake made an announcement. Everyone rushed to the outside decks.

Once again, in the middle distance, the ocean was burning.

Wow!

Judging from the prose, it sure seemed exciting for the New York Times reporter to be on the “Walton Smith” looking for funnels of oil floating in the Gulf. Important stuff was being noted, like the surface of the water being on fire and graduate students taking water samples.

The reporter makes a conclusion about the import of vast bodies of underwater oil.

“That would be troubling because it could mean the oil would slip past coastal defenses such as ‘containment booms’ …”

Troubling? Only troubling? And has not oil already gone past ‘containment booms’?

This is the best work the New York Times can do?

But what’s the real message, one obscured by the vanities of trying to be calm, scenic and cineramic?

What, exactly, can a few US scientists in a boat do when confronted with an undefinable immense volume of underwater oil?

Nothing. There’s nothing to fix it except to hope for nature to slowly take it away.

“We really never found either end of it,” one scientist said to the Times reporter. “He said he did not know how wide the plume actually was … ”

It’s a colossal failure on every level.

No amount of deluding oneself about American business, science and technology, or promising leadership and the delivery of fine sayings, or that only the oil companies have the savvy to deal with it, makes any difference.

The one thing that does make sense is the human desire for revenge. The Obama administration ignores this — as it seemingly has done with the general desire to inflict payback on Wall Street — at very real peril.

A Reuters news piece mentions briefly, and with seemingly inappropriate humorous intent, that “Concocting revenge fantasies has become a popular sport.”

“A Louisiana resident suggested in a letter to the Times Picayune newspaper that BP executives be tarred in spilled oil, rolled in blackened pelican feathers and sent to the guillotine so their severed heads could be used in a ‘junk shot’ to clog the well.” it added.

When all is said and done, the US government must find a way to put the minions who did this on the end of pitchforks. And it will have to firmly and publicly. Or it will have also allowed BP’s disaster to not only destroy the environment of the Gulf Coast, but also take down its ability to effectively govern.

05.28.10

Father’s Day Ought To Be Good

Posted in Phlogiston, Stumble and Fail at 9:31 am by George Smith

The genus mean old coot is not exlusive to white America.

In from the wires, this news from Korea, an old man who donated his business fortune to the Defense Ministry:

“Money is dear to everybody, and I’m no exception. Money is as valuable as the blood that circulates in a man’s body. But we have to keep in mind that money can be used as poison or as medicine, depending on how it is spent,” [said Kim Yeong-Chol].

“So I have decided to spend it on high explosives.”

Kim, who has three children, one son and two daughters, said he didn’t tell his children about his donation because they are still young and ought to carry out their lives without depending on his money.

“My children will probably learn that I donated all my assets when the story goes out and they might feel regretful about the news,” Kim said. “But I’m sure they will understand my intentions.”

The Defense Ministry said it will invest Kim’s money to build a center to conduct research on new environment-friendly materials. The center will focus on developing new substances that could be applied in cutting-edge weapons designs, such as micro missiles …”

Pap, we’re so happy to hear you’ve taken the family fortune and given it to the government so it can buy more missiles from US and Korean arms manufacturers!

“[Kim] founded and ran a midsized textile company in Gwangju, then sold his facilities to the government and amassed a personal fortune … With the government money, Kim initially thought he would establish a foundation or a school to give back to society,” reads the article.

But that was before his decades long twin desires to have revenge on his family and add to things for people to be blowed up with reasserted control.

05.27.10

High School War on Terror Theatre

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 6:42 am by George Smith

Beggaring common sense, one reads of a high school teacher in New Mexico going over the top in his zeal to be involved in war on terror readiness:

It was supposed to be a lesson on how to respond to a bioterrorism attack but it quickly turned into a lesson on what happens when not everyone is informed about what’s going on.

During a passing period on April 26 in the courtyard of Rio Rancho High School, as students of teacher Justin Baiardo’s epidemiology class thought they were leaving for a field trip, seven students seemingly started to hemorrhage, convulse and dropped to the ground with what looked like blood spewing from their mouths. A young girl screamed. Emergency and first responders came to the scene. At least one coach tried to perform CPR on one of the non-responsive students. Calls to 911 were made and students sent panicked text messages.

Unknowingly to many students and some teachers, the entire scene was an “exercise.”

The students who collapsed to the ground — and one who “fell’ down some stairs — were actors coached by Baiardo to simulate a bioterrorism attack.

Baiardo said he wanted his students to experience an attack and use the lessons learned in his class. In order to achieve some realism, Baiardo kept not only his students in the dark but also the vast majority of the student body.

“I tried to cause a little panic,” Baiardo said. “It had to be spontaneous. The reaction from my kids would not have been there if we told the parents beforehand. I wanted them to respond to a situation like we have been talking about it. [Being] spontaneous was necessary.”

Baiardo described the exercise as a way for his students to study how disease can be transferred through populations. He said the school’s principal was informed of the exercise and it had been in the works for weeks.

Predictably, there was some disagreement on its value, the teacher arguing that a bit of panic now and then is good as a learning exercise, others in emergency services arguing — not so much.

“[The chaos] that morning was intentional so as to mimic a true panic situation, a concept foreign to most individuals in this day and age,” wrote the teacher in a letter to the newspaper. “Controlled panic (fire drills, etc.) fails to instill the reality that a true panic situation might hold and judging by the apathetic reactions of many students during the simulation, I am concerned by the desensitization that I witnessed first-hand within the student population. Such is the pampered environment that we create for our youth in which they are never really exposed to true tests of resolve.”

Added the newspaper:

But Rio Rancho Battalion Chief Paul Bearce said he voiced reservations about the exercise. A week prior, a student approached Bearce about participating in the mock event.

“I knew it was going to be a situation where people were going to panic … When we found out the scenario, I voiced concerns. Students didn’t realize it was a scenario. My concerns of what I anticipated would happen — happened.”

Fire Rescue sent a rescue company to the school for an hour.

Anticipating people panicking and calling 911, Bearce contacted the dispatch center and told them to route reports of an attack at Rio Rancho High to him.

“We had concerns — we wanted to make sure no one got hurt and there was no mass panic,” he said.

“A little panic can be healthy,” countered the teacher.

And, by the way, what disease actually causes people to fall down simultaneously with blood spurting from their noses and mouths? Something from a made-for-TV movie about Ebola virus horror? The Masque of the Red Death?

[N.B., folks: This is different from when you were a kid in grade school and someone vomited in the back of the classroom. And then one or two others followed suit from the stench and hysteria.]

Next week: Rigging a simultaneous white powder hoax and fake gunfire breaking out in the school commons as terrorists attack.

05.25.10

Cult of EMP Crazy: Coast to Coast

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 9:57 am by George Smith

Updated

The kook parade that’s the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy will always be with us. It possesses a solid underground.

And it is up for display regularly on the premier radio show for nutcases who believe in the paranormal, Coast to Coast with George Nori.

If you’ve ever watched SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters for more than five minutes and felt your intellect being amputated, enduring Coast to Coast will give your brain an even more radical haircut.

Here’s a segment from a recent show. Newt Gingrich pal William Forstchen is a guest. This clip begins with a caller who gets talking about how Ahmadinejad could become the anti-Christ and put an end to humanity.

A little further in an old lady calls to inquire about the building of secret bunkers so that the government can ride out electromagnetic pulse doom. Or something like that.

So why NASA would have had anything to do with Forstchen earlier this year is a bit of a mystery.

Well, maybe not so much. The agency certainly ain’t what it used to be.

Can you name one astronaut or scientist not from the Mercury, Gemini or Apollo programs (or one who didn’t die in a space shuttle disaster)?

Didn’t think so.

Jumping back to last week, we take another look at a different specie of EMP extremist, William Saxton and his civilian national security group for worrying about electromagnetic pulse as well as spying on Muslims so that the impurifying of the precious bodily fluids of textbooks used to teach children be curtailed.

It’s a whole different breed of paranoid crazy, seemingly more high button than what’s delivered by Coast to Coast.

If one surfs to Saxton’s Citizens for National Security group, one sees Peter Leitner, mostly infamous for a bit before Congress about a decade ago, delivered during a House hearing on electromagnetic pulse which became notorious for the amount of frank lies and rubbish disseminated.

I wrote a few days ago:

At the time, the Chinese were said to be sending in sleeper agents to contaminate southern California public schools.

Why? To make our kids feel bad.

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[Testimony] — presented by author Dr. Peter Leitner on alleged Communist Chinese “yellow peril”-like subterfuge: “I’ve heard rumors . . . One I found particularly disturbing . . . [and] I haven’t seen any recorded documentation of these incidents . . . where very young-looking Chinese students were going to the United States and placed in high schools in the U.S. except their ages were 24 – 25 years old . . . They were brilliant students . . . Well, it turns out it’s an example of a sleeper agent, somebody who is put in position. He already has advanced degrees before coming in, then is put into the position as a seed and then is allowed to flourish in a totally unfair competition with U.S. student counterparts.”

Dan Pipes, who recently advised that Obama could save his presidency by bombing Iran, is also listed as a Citzens for National Security adviser.

CFN’s “task forces,” described here , aim at spying on various Muslim groups and compiling files on them.

“Once we have compiled this treasure-trove of persuasive evidence, we will offer it to those who need it most: prosecutors, law enforcement officials, media reporters, judges, congressional staffs, college professors, government at all levels, think tanks, public school administrators – the list is endless,” reads the mission statement.


And here’s a recent Fox News segment on electromagnetic pulse doom in 2012 due to solar flare — a new meme, one featuring an alleged “NASA scientist” (actually, Michio Kaku’s primarily a cable television fringe personality) who has been seen on TV trying to explain how he would make a flying saucer.

“Each 30 minute episode [of his TV show] discusses the scientific basis behind such imaginative schemes as: time travel, parallel universes, warp drive, star ships, light sabers, force fields, teleportation, invisibility, death stars, and even superpowers and flying saucers,” reads the man’s bio on Wiki.

“Solar flares could mean of the end of life as we know it,” reads the Fox News caption.

Cue the movie nobody went to see, the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen.

05.24.10

Cult of Cyberwar: Cult Chieftain’s book gets lukewarm reviews

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Extremism at 12:08 pm by George Smith

Finally, there’s blood in the water. And it’s the Cult of Cyberwar’s.

DD got enough cuts in over the last few months that even those most inclined to blind endorsement of whatever some celebrity voice of authority has to say can’t overlook it.

So recent reviews of Richard Clarke’s Cyberwar tell a story of waning enthusiasm.

Sure, the standard scripts and memes of cyberwar doom are deployed, but they’re just on display for show. Everyone has written them and the overkill has squeezed all the zip fresh out. The reviewers realizes they’re getting a hot and canned delivery of something, not necessarily the truth, more likely a sales pitch.

From the Financial Times:

Poison gas clouds over Wilmington and Houston. Serial crashes on the New York subway and the Washington Metro. Aircraft plunging to the ground. The president of the United States clueless as to what to do next.

This scenario belongs not to Hollywood but to Richard Clarke, who has served four presidents, from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, as national security adviser. In short, his startling new book, Cyber War, argues that the sky is about to fall on our heads.

“Cyber War will strengthen Clarke’s claims as one of the founding fathers of cybersecurocracy,” it continues.

“While enjoying the verve of his writing, the question must still be asked: is he right? Because if so, he and his fellow securocrats will be the recipients of huge sums of taxpayers’ cash … Take Clarke’s warnings with a pinch of salt but do not dismiss them out of hand.”

Coming from a well-known establishment publication, it’s the equivalent of someone saying, “Run along now.”

And from the Washington Post:

Still, few seem too worked up about [cyberwar]. On a recent “Real Time With Bill Maher” episode, for instance, Clarke’s cyber-scare stories fell flat.

Even backward North Korea is exercising its cyber-muscles. Last year, on July 4, the hermit kingdom reportedly sent a virus to attack commercial and government Web sites in the United States, including those of the New York Stock Exchange and the White House, as well as sites in South Korea. Little damage seems to have been done …

Not nearly as much as one torpedo, I might add.

“It will probably take ‘an electronic Pearl Harbor’ to wake us up, Clarke says,” adds the reviewer.

Clarke ought to know, he was one of the founding fathers of ‘electronic Pearl Harbor’ scare stories more than ten years ago.

And he’s flogged it in the media big time. To a seemingly endless number of reporters willing to be nothing more than stenographers.

However, you can’t Google it anymore without running into a few dissenting voices.


The Richard Clarke publicity circus — from the archives.

More on the Cult of Cyberwar.

The Texas Horned Toad’s Eyes Squirt Blood: The May Collection

Posted in Extremism, Rock 'n' Roll, Ted Nugent at 9:51 am by George Smith

Run off the pages of the Waco, TX, newspaper for being too much the name-caller, Ted Nugent has been pumping out more hilariously extreme columns for the Washington Times.

Railing against ‘Fedzilla’ in every one, he’s found his perfect audience — the lunatic extreme right of the same said ‘Fedzilla.’ So while Nugent works his way through the classic rock oldies ag fair circuit this summer, he still will generate a great deal of accidental humor through weekly trainwrecks of thought committed to print by the Times.

A recent best of:

“Pay attention. Get involved. Demand action. Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.”

The rest is here.

I am not entitled to a paycheck if I don’t produce. Unless, of course, I am a dependent, bloodsucking punk who expects others to cover for my ineptness. Savings are unemployment benefits for responsible people.

See Greece crumble under its own weight? That’s what happens when you discard accountability and totally disregard the importance of apple quality, apple production and apple value. Or you could always burn down the orchard like Zimbabwe.

Literally. Ignorant goofballs. No bail out for you.

Spend like a gluttonous, spoiled brat with no consideration whatsoever for next year’s crop, and you get a nation of denial-strangled idiots who have convinced themselves that their compensation has no connection to their productivity and sales success rate. Soulless.

Are you listening SEIU? AFL-CIO? Are you listening Fedzilla, you gluttonous, blind pig, you.

The rest is here.

But the absolute finest of Ted’s May declamations are these bon mots.

The New Deal was a raw deal, and the Great Society was for losers.

Who can believe that Fedzilla is taking Goldman Sachs to task …

We are shocked that the president of the United States surrounds himself with self-avowed communists, Marxists, socialists, tax cheats, lawbreakers, far-left animal rights goons, Mao and Che fans, and czars …

A prime motivator for the Tea Party is the example of Martin Luther King Jr. …

Truth, logic and common sense drive our lives and remain common and sensible to us all.

Here.


Krugman’s chart showing the biggest gains for average Americans corresponding to Nugent’s personal belief that ‘the Great Society was for losers.’

Ladies and gentleman, the mean old coot will now play “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” on the stage next to the pig show pavilion at the Donna Corn Maze.

05.21.10

A Tally of Curious and Unpleasant Bioterror Defense Industry Facts

Posted in Bioterrorism at 10:23 am by George Smith

From the Associated Press, earlier this week:

A University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher anctioned for unauthorized experiments was a member of the school’s biosafety committee.

Minutes of Institutional Biosafety Committee meetings show Professor Gary Splitter played a key role reviewing safety protocols for research involving the 1918 flu strain, chronic wasting disease, other viruses. He served on the panel between 2003 and 2006.

UW-Madison has revoked Splitter’s laboratory privileges for allowing experiments in which antibiotic-resistant genes of brucella were studied in his lab by graduate students.

One research watchdog, Edward Hammond, says the university should suspend projects in which Splitter was a key reviewer.

But university research official Bill Mellon says other committee members wouldn’t have approved projects if safety measures were inadequate.

Edward Hammond ran the Sunshine-Project, a noble effort to shine a light into the nooks and crannies of the academic biodefense research industry which burgeoned in the wake of 9/11.

The Sunshine Project ceased operation in 2008. And it was Hammond who first discovered unreported accidental acquisition of brucellosis disease in a university bioterrorism defense researcher. In the first case, at Texas A&M in 2007.

This week’s news concerns the disgracing of a University of Wisconsin at Madison researcher due to malfeasance and brucellosis disease in a graduate researcher.

Reported DVM Magazine:

A 32-year veteran of high-risk research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine has been suspended from working on any projects above Level 1 biosecurity clearance after unauthorized experiments on an antibiotic-resistant strain of brucellosis were discovered.

The suspension of laboratory privileges for Dr. Gary Splitter, DVM, PhD, followed a $40,000 fine against the university for not properly training faculty, staff and students on new federal regulations governing research.

Dr. Bill Mellon, PhD, UW-Madison’s associate dean for research policy and the school’s responsible officer for its select agent program, says Splitter claimed to not know the research in question was being conducted in his lab — despite evidence of the contrary contained in e-mails to a graduate student conducting the experiments. But not knowing about the experiments also would have been unacceptable, Mellon says — especially at that level of biosecurity clearance.

“Even if he didn’t know what a graduate student was doing, that was his responsibility to make sure … they knew what their responsibilities were,” Mellon says.

The $40,000 fine levied against the university was a result of the school’s failure to host training programs, not the experiments being conducted in the lab.

The decision to suspend Splitter’s laboratory privileges was an agreement reached by the doctor and the university. Splitter remains on staff at the school as a professor.

From a Madison newspaper:

[Splitter] lost his lab privileges for five years because two of his graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher inserted drug-resistant brucella germs into mice without permission from local or federal authorities. Someone in the lab later contracted brucellosis, which is an infectious disease that can cause fevers, joint pain and fatigue. He or she recovered.

The State Journal obtained documents this week related to UW-Madison’s investigation after filing a request under the state’s open records law.

However, the unauthorized experimentation with drug resistant Brucella was not, according to the CDC, the source of an infection in the lab. The latter was the result of some sort of other unspecified poor business.

The unauthorized antibiotic resistant strains of Brucella were destroyed in 2008, according to the university. It is potentially vary bad news because it implicates US academic researchers in conduct that would seem to be expressly forbidden by biological arms control convention.

That is, we’re not supposed to be engaged in research which creates new drug resistant diseases or even dances around the periphery of such conduct.

“There was no connection between this infection that occurred in the lab and the other issue with Splitter,” a science dean at UW-Madison told the newspaper.

Since the beginning of the war on terror, the only incidents of bioterrorism, or related to bioterrorism, have all been the product of American science. And they have all come from the bioterrorism defense research industry.

The most obvious case is Amerithrax and Bruce Ivins.

Another case involved the manfacture of botulism toxin by a research lab in the US select agent program and its misuse by peddlers of anti-wrinkle treatments and cosmetic surgery.

This was only discovered when four adults treated with the toxin contracted botulism and had to be put on ventilators. If they had not been sustained in this manner the incident would have certainly resulted in four deaths, only one less than the number killed by the anthrax made at Fort Detrick.

In a subsequent investigation, the FBI raided List Biological Labs in Campbell, CA, the company which had made the botox and sold it to unscrupulous parties. By definition, List Biological Laboratories was part of the US government’s select agent control program.

And oversight failed, big time.

List’s business has been ruined, its people — although still anonymous — disgraced. The company was irresponsible and dangerous. The FBI investigation was tough on it although little news was generated. Now List Biological Laboratories is in bankruptcy. It would probably be a very good thing if it were put out of business permanently, not sold or revived under another name because there is great profit in botox production.

And then we have this week’s UW-Wisconsin thing.

Wall St. Power Suits Discuss Obvious

Posted in Stumble and Fail, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 9:48 am by George Smith


Good news, lads! Good news! Some Wall Street prognosticators have identified the symptoms of an American economic collapse!

From earlier this week, a crew of power suit Wall Streeters issue this hilarity:

Macro economic data suggest the great recession is over. But the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing, thanks, in large part, to a jobless recovery. Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s Damien Hoffman says the growing underclass now accounts for about 10% of the U.S. population.

Ya don’t say, boys!

You really have to see the clip of them here. Or you can take my word they deserve an astoundingly painful beating for being obvious and enthusiastically unselfconscious.

“In this clip, [Damien and Derek], who jointly run the Wall Street Cheat Sheet website, point to several signs America is turning into a two-class society,” Yahoo ‘news’ informed readers.

These findings include:

– Unemployment. The official rate is 9.9% but the wider measure of under employed and those who have given up on their job search is more like 17%. That’s more than 24 million Americans out of work.

– Record numbers using food stamps. The Agriculture Department said a record 40 million Americans, or 1 in 8 Americans, may not be able to eat without government assistance. “This is the ultimate sign of an under class,” the Hoffman Brothers say.

– Take a look at Dollar Tree Stores. The discounter’s stock is near an all-time high while revenues are up 12.5% this year. In other words, more Americans are chasing cheaper goods.

05.20.10

Time to Think About a Government Administered ‘Death Penalty’ for Evil Corporate Giants

Posted in Stumble and Fail, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 11:59 am by George Smith

In college football, the NCAA ended Southern Methodist’s football program in 1987, killing its reputation as an honorable and respected school in what became known as the ‘death penalty.’

And that was only for really bad conduct in a college football program.

It will be the Obama administration’s challenge to see to it that the public perceives justice in the case of the BP oil spill.

A government-administered ‘death penalty’ to the energy giant’s operations in the United States is one idea that comes to mind.

Extraordinary screw-ups and perfidies call for extraordinary counter-measures.

Using the power of the government to quickly dismantle BP, seize its holdings and dismiss its employees, to be branded with some sort of official mark of Cain would certainly be seen as a just response.

There would certainly be no public outcry. And there would be considerable political risk in being any part of government or a political party that would take BP’s side.

Using Feds to remove BP officials from their US offices would be good, visually speaking.

At a time when the US government and military are allowed to pick off civilians and suspected terrorists around the globe with impunity, there certainly is nothing irrational about an argument calling for the picking off of an entity that’s caused an environmental disaster of Biblical proportion.

As if to underline the point, from the New York Times today:

Agency Orders BP to Use a Less Toxic Chemical in Cleanup

After submitting a list of one or more alternatives to the agency, the company would then have 72 hours to start using one of them.

In seeking to break up the oil bubbling to the surface from the Deepwater Horizon well, BP has sprayed nearly 700,000 gallons of Corexit chemical dispersants on the surface of the gulf and directly onto the leaking well head, a mile underwater. It is by far the largest use of chemicals to break up an oil spill in United States waters to date.

But scientists and politicians have increasingly questioned why the E.P.A. is allowing use of the Corexit products when less toxic alternatives are available.

Because oil spills are relatively rare, only small amounts of a few dispersants are kept stockpiled, so at the outset of the disaster in the gulf, the amount of Corexit used was only in the tens of thousands of gallons. BP then ordered much more from its manufacturer, Nalco North America of Naperville, Ill., and applied the product repeatedly.

On Monday, Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of New Jersey, sent a letter to Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A.’s administrator, demanding details of the formula for Corexit products and information about any testing that had been carried out on the chemicals.

In most countries, the active ingredients of dispersants are trade secrets carefully guarded by the companies that make them, but the recipes must be conveyed to national testing agencies.

It was not clear what chemical alternatives BP would select in response to the agency’s order, or whether the company would choose instead to rely less heavily on chemical treatment of the oil spill. But U.S. Polychemical of Spring Valley, N.Y., which makes a dispersant called Dispersit SPC 1000, said Thursday morning that it had received a large order from BP and would increase its production to 20,000 gallons a day in the next few days, and eventually as much as 60,000 gallons a day.

DD mentioned Corexit in connection with its nasty-looking safety sheet last week.

Currently, just switching to another compound of similar nature would seem to just mean substituting one poison for another.

More meaningful national leadership might call a halt to the process of turning the disaster into an even more gigantic ocean chemistry experiment and business opportunity for firms which have no real idea what their products will do when used in this manner.

What’s the old medical admonition to first do no harm?


Political risk taker or just more stupid than people realize?

From the wire:

Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill Friday as anti-business and sounding “really un-American.”

Paul’s defense of oil company BP PLC came during an interview as he tried to explain his controversial take on civil rights law, an issue that seemed to suddenly swamp his campaign after his victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Paul said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Other Republicans have criticized the administration’s handling of the oil spill, but few have been so vocal in defending BP …

The rest of the GOP apparently still lacks the nerve to assert its un-American not to like big corporations which create Biblical disasters.

Where’s Ted Nugent when you need him?

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