Friday, April 27, 2012

Add It Up And It Still Smells - 3

On this date, in 2009, a Dredd Blog post looked back at the economics of the Bush II regime.

That is a regime which current republicans seem to have selective amnesia about.

"The previous republican president was Ronald Reagan", their denial engine within tells them.

That is because the previous republican president was Bush II, who's regime was a fearful regime of corruption, hatred, warmongering, and "doin' a heckuva job" incompetence (see The Graphs of Wrath series).

Here is the text of that aforementioned 2009 Dredd Blog post:

A simple hypothetical and some simple arithmetic show that something may be fishy in bankster land.

For sake of the hypothetical, assume that there are 2.5 million homes in foreclosure.

Further, assume $2,000 as the median monthly mortgage payment for each home.

In this hypothetical, to get money into banks, and to prevent foreclosure on those homes, assume further that we (government) as a financial rescue plan send a check with the home owner and the bank as payees. That is, both have to negotiate it.

The home owner signs the check and gives it to the bank as the mortgage payment.

It is deposited and thus it is in the bank. In this scheme, the home owner owes the U.S. that amount and will pay a small interest over time; and a lien attaches to the home. It can be paid off early if the home owner wants to do that.

Finally, assume that we will do this long enough to get the home owner through the recession; which we will assume will be a 3 year period of time.

The arithmetic on this hypothetical would be: 2,500,000 * $2,000 * 12 * 3 = $180 billion.

Hypothetical results: 1) the housing crisis would be substantially helped because foreclosures would go down and property values would be positively affected (even if the property value holds even); 2) money would go into the banks; 3) which the banks could then loan out; 4) and the government would have a lien on the property for security.

NOTE: the example is not for the purpose of advocating socialism or the like, it is simply to show a contrasting equation and methodology to assist in the housing crisis.

Instead, under the current bailout plan the government has given ten times that amount or more ($750 billion plus) directly to failing institutions.

Those institutions, which are already in trouble, then use substantial amounts of that bailout for bonuses, send it overseas, and other unknowns.

The government is not in a secure position on the debt either, and home owners have been bypassed and not included so no foreclosures are prevented.

As to the auto industry. Use the same formula for 7,000,000 vehicles a year with a $900 monthly median payment, and the arithmetic results in $226.8 billion going into the banks, and the auto industry sells 7 million cars a year.

So the total looks like $226.8 + $180 = $406.8 billion, which is about half of the give away bailout figure, and we will have put $406.8 billion into the banks, induced 21,000,000 vehicle sales, and saved 2.5 million homes as well.

Surely, then, there must be 50 ways to do it better than it is being done?

What the Bush II regime did do was to please the Plutocracy, by firmly embedding a plutonomy, and they did it so "well" that the Obama Regime has followed in the W direction ever since.

As Daily Kos points out, we lead the industrialized world in low wages, that is, we have the highest percentages of low wage workers of any other relevant nation (see The U.S. is a Low Wage Nation).

The previous post in this series is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?

"I Don't Get Any Respect"
Regular readers of Dredd Blog know that we take no prisoners when it comes to junk religion masking as science (e.g. Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith).

In that post I waxed "philosophical", because cosmologists have been telling us that the great bulk of matter (90-96%) in the universe is unseen, unfelt, undetected in laboratories, or anywhere else, but "we are looking really hard for it", even as other experts on "geistmatter" said things to the contrary, such as "forget it, you won't find geistmatter here" (ibid).

So, throw away the truckloads of dark matter textbooks, forget about all that memorization you did between university parties, and pray for dark matter?

A comparable episode has been coming into focus in another part of the vast universe of science, associated in part with the human genome project.

I say comparable, because, like the cosmologists who tell us tales of dark matter, geneticists have also been telling us, almost since Darwin's Ark landed at Galapagos Island, that genes control everything about us that matters.

Some of that dogma engendered the horrid "Social Darwinism" (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy) as well as "Advanced Eugenics" (The Criminally Insane Epoch Arises).

Anyway, the dark matter hypothesis and the comparable dark gene hypothesis have similar quantities of "numerological genes" it would seem:
More problematic is the reality that the human genome is still a vast catalogue of the unknown and scarcely known. The Human Genome Project’s most startling finding was that human genes, as currently defined, make up less than 2 percent of all the DNA on the genome, and that the total number of genes is relatively small. Scientists had predicted there might be 80,000 to 140,000 human genes, but the current tally is fewer than 25,000 — as one scientific paper put it, somewhere between that of a chicken and a grape. The remaining 98 percent of our DNA, once dismissed as “junk DNA,” is now taken more seriously. Researchers have focused on introns, in the gaps between the coding segments of genes, which may play a crucial role in regulating gene expression, by switching them on and off in response to environmental stimuli.
(Lost On The Gene Map, emphasis added). That "junk DNA", as these geist hunters would find out upon getting out of their labs more often, is actually microbial in origin:
... some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes ... 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial ... exchanging messages with genes inside human cells ... microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts ... We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells ... no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial ... Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say ... the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity ... these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.
(The Human Microbiome Congress). Golly, who knew that microbes really are not junk, that they are the most abundant life form on Earth, that they are the oldest life form on Earth, that they can do science, that they can make and use molecular machines, that they are symbiont with us, and therefore that a lot of science-religion textbooks are going to be garbage, jetsam, and flotsam in the ocean gyres?

Furthermore, humans would not exist at all if it were not for some helpful work of that 98% "junk" (microbial / viral) DNA:
If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born.

In 2000, a team of Boston scientists discovered a peculiar gene in the human genome. It encoded a protein made only by cells in the placenta. They called it syncytin.
What made syncytin peculiar was that it was not a human gene. It bore all the hallmarks of a gene from a virus.

Viruses have insinuated themselves into the genome of our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years.
It turned out that syncytin was not unique to humans. Chimpanzees had the same virus gene at the same spot in their genome. So did gorillas. So did monkeys. What’s more, the gene was strikingly similar from one species to the next.
(Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?). So get off the proverbial high horse, and learn from a scientist of the type Dredd Blog tends to identify with:

As you can see in the video above,  Dr. James Fallon informs us that he is arguably a "successful psychopath", and that he was informed that he is a sociopath because of some of his behavioral characteristics, genetic map, and revelations via PET scans.

Never-the-less he says, he is an average good guy, and I believe it.

I think this because he knows that our genetic theories are half-baked, and that knowledge in this area is growing by leaps and bounds away from conventional teaching:
Epigenetics is just one of many disciplines supercharged by the Human Genome Project. Another is proteomics, which focuses on the structure and function of proteins within an organism. It shows us more clearly how our genes and proteins coexist and interact with the genes and proteins of the trillions of microbes each of us hosts. Indeed, our bodies contain ten times more microbial cells than human cells. Human microbiomics studies the approximately three million microbial genes in the human body, a genetic load so massive it is almost nonsensical to talk about “our” bodies at all. The food we eat, the drugs we consume, our emotional and social environments, or whether we get vaccinated (“vaccinomics,” of course) — all these factors affect how our genes are expressed. Each action sets in motion a Rubik’s cube of metabolic variables we have only begun to comprehend.

As medical science struggles to apply these new discoveries to society’s benefit, human genome research, now unstoppable, continues to evolve. Ironically, though, this initiative to tailor health care to the individual genome — the touchstone of the Human Genome Project and personalized medicine — increasingly reveals that our genes, and we as individuals, do not function in isolation from other life forms and the environments we all inhabit. Whatever secrets genes contain, our book of life and that of a microbe remain written in the same language.
(see Lost On The Gene Map, link above; emphasis added). The good I see coming out of this work and the powerful insights of Dr. Fallon, is an enhanced understanding of what it means to be human (see On The New Meaning of "Human").

The lyrics of the following song can be perused here.

Some scientists think academia is thwarting scientific creativity:
The creative impulse is of particular importance to scientific research. Without it, the same obstacles, ailments, and solutions would occur repeatedly because no one stepped back and reflected to gain a new perspective.

Unfortunately, in the academic world—where much of today’s scientific innovation takes place—researchers are encouraged to maintain the status quo and not “rock the boat.” This mentality is pervasive, affecting all aspects of scientific research from idea generation to funding to the training of the next generation of scientists.
(The Scientist). Within the scientific establishment, there is also resistance to new ideas or challenges to old ideas (Tyranny of Dogma In Science).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Tortured Past

We review posts from time to time, so as to grasp how some things have changed, and how some things have not changed.

Yesterday's post indicates that we wish some things would not change, like accelerating pollution levels, and the catastrophes that are coming because of it.

We would rather see those pollution levels not change upward, but rather we would like to see pollution go away completely.

Some of the things that change, and some of the things that do not, show us a paralysis within civilization - a serious paralysis that renders civilization unable to cope, therefore unable to remedy, the most dangerous threats to civilization: rising pollution levels.

The following two pieces, posted on this date, in 2009, deal with the concept of torture by officials.

Torture is something that we would assume could be changed, but never-the-less has not been changed as it should have been, because of the aforementioned paralysis of government.

Here is the text of the first one ("I Disagree With Naomi Wolf"):

Just following orders is ok
I agree with Arianna Huffington's Article that the world is watching our debate about the torture years.

Arianna knows that our decision will have serious consequences as to how the world perceives it should deal with us.

Let's be clear that Dredd Blog fully disagrees with progressive Naomi Wolf's statement:
"Should we prosecute the agents who committed the torture? We should not"
(Huffpo). I also disagree with conservative Peggy Noonan.

Both Naomi and Peggy argue that we should not prosecute agents who conducted torture contrary to our clear law.

As Arianna pointed out, this is a critical juncture where world opinion, like a titanic ship, is very slowly turning back in our favour since we began to change our foreign policy.

We must not stop that very slow turning now, because it would leave the world's opinion of us dead in the water.

That would have serious negative ramifications for many years to come.

Imagine a neighbourhood of families who have lived there for generation after generation. This represents the world.

Older, well built houses with many different styles have been constructed throughout the neighbourhood over many years. In fact, some churches and mosques in the neighbourhood are in fact many hundreds of years old and are still in use.

People in this neighbourhood have few weapons, one to a household is the norm.

Then one year a new family moves into the neighbourhood, and builds a new house. This represents the US.

This new family talks about freedom, human rights, and peace, yet they own slaves. This is frowned on in general in the neighbourhood.

But the new family has a fight amongst themselves, and they eventually get rid of the slavery issue. Good, the neighbourhood concludes.

But lo and behold, in the new family's new 10 room house the new family begins to use 5 of those rooms for guns and ammunition. While they still talk of peace and freedom.

But since they also seem willing to help protect the neighbourhood with those weapons from time to time when the neighbourhood is threatened, their strange love and excess of things that go boom is for the most part overlooked.

But then some of the teens in the family break into a house down the street, shoot some of the people, bring some of them back, and lock them up in their basement. Then they torture them and they declare themselves to be the police of the neighbourhood.

Then the new family begins a quarrel amongst themselves about whether that was the right thing for the teens to do and whether or not the teens should be punished and corrected.

Of course this symbolic example above is not a perfect symbolism, however, one can easily surmise the point I am trying to make about it being important what the neighbours think.

Especially if we add the ingredient that everyone in the neighbour hood works on collective farms and trade amongst themselves for the financial well being of all.

If we become financially and otherwise ostracised it could be serious to our well being. Having all those guns will not suffice to make the neighbourhood fond of us and favourable toward us.

There are signs that the neighbourhood is having negative reactions already.

If we let the teens run wild with their guns and let them get away with torturing people in the neighbourhood, after we agreed not to, our credibility will suffer a serious set back.

Naomi Wolf's article says only high ups were prosecuted for war crimes at Nuremberg. That avoids the fact that enemy soldiers were prosecuted and put to death for water boarding at that time:
"McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."
(Politifacts, Huffpo). Those who were "only following orders", or otherwise doing what they were told, and who then obediently tortured prisoners were prosecuted.

Is Naomi Wolf advocating a different justice for white collar elites than for poor and middle class violators?

Here is the text of the second one ("The Penalty For Torture Can Be Death"):

Our United States criminal statutes (not war crimes statutes in the Geneva Conventions) concerning torture say:
Section 2340. Definitions

As used in this chapter -

(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;

(3) "United States" includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.
(18 USC 2340). If behaviour fits that definition, then:
Section 2340A. Torture

(a) Offense. - Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if -
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy. - A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
(18 USC 2340A, emphasis added). It is clear to me why those who conspired to commit torture, as well as those who did the torture are desperately lying and trying to cover up.

Under this statute conspirators could receive up to life in prison, while anyone who physically causes physical death of a prisoner could be put to death.

What this statute shows is that our nation takes the notion of torture very, very seriously and it is clear that it was a signal to anyone who would try to change the reputation of America in the world that it could cost them their lives.

How many "too big to jail" officials have been prosecuted for war crimes like torture since these above posts were published?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 5

Government Dirty-Oil Policy
The original Dredd Blog post in this series, in 2009, was picked up on other blogs around the blogosphere, such as here.

In that post doubt was expressed about government's sincerity, and therefore ability, to effectively deal with the narrowing path, in the direction of Ecocide, in which world governments are taking their populations.

Sad to say, Dredd Blog cannot represent that things have changed for the better in the United States, and in fact, the opposite is the case.

Since that time elections have taken place wherein the House of Representatives was taken over by right-wing global warming deniers, while at the same time, serious discoveries have revealed an alarming acceleration of warming at the poles, even as McTell News covers the ongoing climate catastrophe less and less.

The Movie 2012 - Truth and Fiction

The movie "2012" is utterly unscientific, in terms of the science of the Sun and the Earth, however, it is quite accurate in terms of political science.

In that movie, the elites of the plutocracy (the 1%) saved themselves while letting the hoi polloi (99%) die off en masse.

Have you read about all the "undisclosed locations", "hardened sites", and "bunkers deep inside mountains", where the elites will go when trouble arises?

Scientific Models vs. Observation

While models that scientists have used to deal with polar warming have heretofore indicated that the poles were expected to warm faster than the rest of the planet, those models  have now been shown to have been in error about the degree of increase in the acceleration of the warming at the poles.

Thus, what long-time scientists now see happening is "astonishing" to those who are keeping an eye on the Earth's melting ice sheets at the poles:
Researchers completed a map of ice flow in Antarctica, and were somewhat surprised to find that ice flows like slow rivers from deep in the interior regions of the continent, not just at the coasts (Science Daily).

This is significant, because it means that because the ice is sliding or flowing toward the oceans, as ice falls off into the ocean and melts, more of the same will continue to happen because of the replenishing flow from the vast interior.
(Thin Ice). For decades it was oft repeated that the Eastern Ice Sheet of Antarctica would take centuries to melt, but that model was in error, as was the model for the Arctic methane:
It is an ugly, deadly addiction that requires extraordinary effort to resist, which our government is not taking seriously enough, and an extraordinary addiction that our government is not resisting well at all:
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.
(Independent, 12-13-11, emphasis added). Not only that, now methane has been discovered being released from cracks in the arctic ice:
The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate. Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice.

Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice.

"When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said.

"Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added.
(Independent, 4-23-12, emphasis added). Surprises are not very good sometimes, and this is one of those times.
(Deepwater Horizon). The words "dramatic and unprecedented" included along with "has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years" should shock governments out of their ecocidal dementia!

In closing, recently the following was said about the ongoing half-hearted government efforts:
But excellent as [removal of soot, methane, hydrofluorocarbons is], the world's soaring carbon dioxide emissions remain the elephant in the atmosphere. They are the single biggest contributor to rising temperatures, will remain in the atmosphere for 100 years, and unless drastic action is taken to mitigate them, costly and dangerous climate change will not be averted.
(The Economist). The ongoing denial and depression cause lethargy that will only exacerbate the underlying problem, which is hidden in plain sight.

The previous post in this series is here, the next post in this series is here.

The following presentation was given at the Pentagon in November of 2010. It makes some of the same points and uses the same humorous examples that Dredd Blog had been using for years prior to the presentation. See if you can pick them out:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Doom Is A Government Department - 2

Smile - You're On Kinky Camera
The first post in this series focused on an executive order that was recently signed by the president.

That order gives his cabinet members the right to seize any U.S. property or the labor of any U.S. citizen to be used in government service, with our without payment, to enhance national security.

Some say it was just another test run, because other presidents have done it, so move on folks, nothing to see here, however, as Dredd Blog pointed out, there really is something new afoot.

That something new is the fact that how journalists, judges, citizens, or foreigners interpret the text is irrelevant, rather, the main factor is now how the government secretly interprets the text, which is said to be a scary interpretation, according to several senators.

Let's move on from that post to today's focus.

Adding to the increasingly obvious fact that psychopaths now govern the U.S. eh?, the Supreme Five recently ruled that you can be strip searched even for a parking or traffic ticket you forgot about:
The justices upheld a ruling by a US appeals court based in Philadelphia that it was reasonable to search everyone entering a jail, even without suspicion of any criminal activity.

The decision was a victory for the jails and for the Obama administration, which argued for an across-the-board rule allowing strip-searches of all those entering the general jail population, even those arrested on minor offenses.

Attorneys for Albert Florence, who was strip-searched twice at two New Jersey jails in a six-day period after his arrest for an unpaid traffic fine, argued jailers must first have reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
(Guardian, emphasis added). Obama agreed with the Supreme Five perverts, which also goes hand in hand with his declaration that he can kill any American at home or abroad, if he alone decides that they are an enemy combatant.

This strange, unAmerican, fascist, Orwellian ideology is explained by some trend analysis, mixed with some history of other totalitarian regimes:
Our surveillance state shown considerable determination to intrude on citizens sexually. There's the sexual abuse of prisoners at Bagram – der Spiegel reports that "former inmates report incidents of … various forms of sexual humiliation. In some cases, an interrogator would place his penis along the face of the detainee while he was being questioned. Other inmates were raped with sticks or threatened with anal sex". There was the stripping of Bradley Manning is solitary confinement. And there's the policy set up after the story of the "underwear bomber" to grope US travelers genitally or else force them to go through a machine – made by a company, Rapiscan, owned by terror profiteer and former DHA czar Michael Chertoff – with images so vivid that it has been called the "pornoscanner".

Believe me: you don't want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations.

The political use of forced nudity by anti-democratic regimes is long established. Forcing people to undress is the first step in breaking down their sense of individuality and dignity and reinforcing their powerlessness.
(Sexual Humiliation ... U.S. Political Tool). Meanwhile the institutionalized spying on Americans is going full steam ahead:
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration — an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle — financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications — will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
(Wired, emphasis added; cf Salon). This spy center, five times the size of the U.S. capitol, is being built to spy on Americans, while children go hungry, and while the 1% plunder more and more money from the poor and middle class.