Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stalin & Tip O'Neill ?

There's an unseemly hurry to rename the Cape Cod National Seashore's year round Salt Pond Visitor's Center after former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr.

The problem is that in comparison to a few others, O'Neill's contribution to the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore was minor. U.S. Rep. Hastings Keith & U.S. Senators Leverett Saltonstall & John F. Kennedy sponsored and pioneered the legislation that created the national park. Further important influences were authors Henry David Thoreau (Cape Cod, 1865) and Henry Beston (The Outermost House, 1928). Although 2012 is the centennial of O'Neill's birth, he's already well-remembered and officially memorialized in assorted other projects, including the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Library at Boston College, the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Tunnel of  Routes 93, 1 & 3 (Central Artery) through Boston, and the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building.

It seems unwise to force local people to adopt such name changes. Projects meant to weather the ages should stand above short-term political expediency and partisan brown-nosing. In my opinion, the USA saw far too many things named after actor-President Ronald Reagan. The USSR named many things after Stalin. People hesitate to say "No."

The passage of time, a different sense of reason, or more forthright opposition may lead to another future change of name. Simmering conflict becomes rather insulting...

Best family members of Tip O'Neill decline the honor, or request others be memorialized.

Stalingrad, formerly Tsaritsyn, is now named Volgograd.
Leningrad has been Petrograd and is now Saint Petersburg.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rich Rancor: Romney a Retard

Mitt Romney has failed to properly handle questions about his wealth & income, his work with Bain & Co., his IRA (individual retirement account) worth $100 million, etc. 

But Willard Mitt Romney bit the hand that fed him. His blustering explanations have fueled wider interest in offshore tax havens, investment banking loopholes, private banker links to unsavory foreigners, and how to hide details of who's the beneficial owner of wealth. A recent study (link) estimates the super-rich are hiding between $21-32 trillion ($21,000,000,000,000+) in secret tax havens, assisted by a "bevy of professional enablers in private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries" -- Seem exactly Mitt's kind of people !

Surely many mega rich now fear their furtive world might unravel... they prefer darkness, outside public awareness. Mitt became their enemy, because basically, he's stupid.

Capitalist Treachery

Keep people indebted, keep them dumb, keep 'em hungry...

Republicans and Mitt Romney are preparing the groundwork for a new America. Jobs will become available after the minimum wage is scrapped. The American people will work longer hours, in worse conditions, for less.

The richest among us too readily exploit weakness & suffering in the other 99%

Entrepreneurs & businessmen deserve to enjoy successes stemming from their efforts. The key argument rather is such businesspeople have no right to monopolize all of America's riches. We all deserve decency, a chance to learn, stable community life, leisure time, etc...

The dangers of profit maximization regularly threaten safety and health. This is clear when flimsy minimum standards collapse (link). As long as America's borders are open to trade, jobs will continue to be exported to sweatshops abroad.

In Sweden, the whole society enjoys five or more weeks of paid leisure holiday. The roads are good, education is free, excellent medical care is available to everyone regardless of income.

Tweedledee & Tweedledum

Paul Krugman on Romney's hidden finances:
"I’ve been awe-struck by the way questions about Mr. Romney’s career at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he founded, and his refusal to release tax returns have so obviously caught the Romney campaign off guard. Shouldn’t a very wealthy man running for president — and running specifically on the premise that his business success makes him qualified for office — have expected the nature of that success to become an issue?"

To me it is more of a question: why are our choices of leadership so poor?...  Romney's a fool; Obama is a tool of the oligarchs. 

Examine the charter of incorporation granted by states and foreign nations to companies infiltrating our communities. "Limited liability" allows companies to cut-and-run on debts & mistakes, often leaving their huge problems with local people. Should the funds of distant investors be allowed to buy the support of our elected officials? America's people are being shanghai'd -- "induced to do something by means of fraud" --
we're pushed to Elect the fool, or Re-elect the tool.

Fallen Heroes, Wounded Warriors

Why is America at war?

Or to rephrase - why is America still at war in Afghanistan?

Too many people have suffered & died for whatever's the lame answer. All over the world, families grieve for their injured and crippled. Thousands of people suffer psychological trauma from horrendous experiences in the war zones.

It is time the spotlight celebrating Fallen Heroes & Wounded Warriors is turned on our civilian leadership and their financiers.

Lakefront jet-skiing by Mitt Romney might be interrupted by a few sad moments -- sure, politicians & bankers can put on dark clothes and look grim for a few hours, but America's po' families grieve forever, along with the families of enemies abroad.

Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan - the soldiers are expended not for freedom, but so 1% enjoy a fancy lifestyle.

Shared sacrifice?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

US Military Muscle Cramp

The 31,000 ton USNS Rappahannock recently fired on a small fishing boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing an Indian fisherman and seriously wounding others of the crew. As the two ships neared each other in the shipping lanes, the US vessel, a 677 ft (206 m) Naval support ship, came to believe the much smaller craft was a potential threat. The 25-foot skiff (which proved ultimately to have no radio and no weaponry), "ignored defensive, non-lethal warnings" by the US Naval vessel before being raked with machine gun fire and partially disabled.

(photos not to scale)

Such incidents are likely to occur.

American troops are deployed in assorted sensitive areas around the world, and must be sensitive to the threat of attack.

How can accident and bloodshed be avoided? Best redeploy in the mainland USA, and slowly shrink the size of the US military -- it is too large, too widely deployed, too expensive. Posting US military forces all around the world generates trouble.

Too often US military presence relies on cozy relationships with despotic and non-democratic unpopular regimes. When we prop-up the hated government, no doubt local people despise our presence. Bring the US troops home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shapely Olympic Females

The 1912 Olympics in Stockholm had 2407 athletes, including 48 women. Team USA did not send any female members - surprisingly, for similar reasons as Saudi Arabia until this year, due largely to modesty. - (link) "because U.S. team rules required women to wear long skirts in all their events, no American women competed."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Field Marshal Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney's claims of loyalty to der Fatherland USA might be doubted. He himself ably avoided service during the Vietnam War, and among his five sons, none achieved the lowest rank of Private. That's because none volunteered for military service (one is training in medicine, others are fast-track finance or real estate executives).

US-based Romney's offshore financial manipulations make him a suspect citizen, otherwise he's cleancut and seems nice (fellow Republican Ted Bundy also seemed honorable, except for his serial killer weaknesses).

If Romney is elected US president, we'll have a chickenhawk leader seeking to prove his toughness through slaughtering other people's sons (and daughters). At 65 years old, Romney hasn't completed any great service projects or exhibited very honorable traits. He's served himself (and perhaps his family). Romney is a whiner and chickenshit, who'll cause great damage to the wider world.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Banks = Bank Thieves?

Another huge financial scandal has been settled, where credit card companies & major banks have agreed to pay retailers up to US$7.25 billion for price fixing. It's likely the largest antitrust settlement in history. (WSJ link)

This just after we learn giant international banks manipulated the LIBOR rate at our expense.

Ultimately and systematically, big finance screws you.

The collusion of these corporations is terrible. Is it criminal? Will hundreds of bankers & finance industry insiders be imprisoned soon for corruption?

Of course not! The corruption is part of the system. Many of the regulators are former or future employees of key financial firms. Some are related by family ties. We can expect no accountability for their 'ignorance' - which all surely deeply regret. Typical format is fines paid by companies, which avoid admitting guilt.

Note the embarrassing family link between former NASDAQ Chairman Bernie Madoff & the Securities & Exchange Commission, where SEC compliance official Eric Swanson married Madoff's niece Shana (she was a compliance lawyer for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm, her dad was Chief Compliance Officer). Corruption, compliance shortcomings and poor regulation helped Madoff & Co. launder tens of billions of dollars. But wrongdoing by most of his cronies & family co-workers is unproved, no charges have been filed - we're told nobody but Bernie knew nothing...

Would Romney Steal Love?

Mitt Romney seems to me an amoral weasel. He appears the type of person who'd somehow manage to "miss" World War enlistment, when I imagine he'd stay on the home front, wheeling & dealing, fiddling with deployed soldier girlfriends & wives, selling the military poor quality equipment at inflated prices...

Romney has no leadership quality at all. I'd not willingly follow him anywhere, as he seems a conman who'd steal or weasel something if he got the chance.

He's too much like Captain Francesco Schettino of the destroyed Costa Concordia: abandoning responsibility with sleazy excuses. Romney's shown his commitment to Mitt Romney Ltd. His financial scheming indicates he'll quickly dump America for personal profit. I don't respect him at all.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Made with Pride in China

The U.S. Olympic Committee is under siege by politicians (link) for purchasing uniforms from China for the Olympic team USA.

US Senator Harry Reid advocates burning the uniforms, because "We have people in America working in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs."

What a load of balderdash!

Senator Reid no doubt uses foreign-made goods himself.

Prior to US Independence Day, I  was recently in a Massachusetts shop full of patriotic goods: US flags, bunting, pennants, etc. Most of the products were made in China. I saw a large red, white & blue pennant proclaiming "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" made in Pakistan.

Hand-painted Christmas decorations can be odd: traditional winter scenes made in Bangladesh, where the artists have never seen snow...

Our global world can be strange.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chop Chop

Infant circumcision is difficult to justify. Whether for boys or girls, the practice seems to me ghastly: irreversible genital mutilation upon individuals given no choice.

Religious groups may claim long traditions, but similar rituals of scarification or baby tattooing or sacrifice would not be tolerated.

Claims that some circumcised as children might eventually benefit medically must be counterbalanced by the reality that circumcision procedures sometimes lead to infection or sudden death. Even one such accident, or a single adult claiming the procedure was a violation, should be sufficient to ban the painful rite as child abuse.

In respect to culture & religion, youth should enjoy freedom to choose their own path and religion upon becoming adult. Adults can snip-off bits from their own bodies. But it seems to me very wrong that anyone be allowed to injure permanently the genitals of babies & children.

Children should not be medically disfigured with no informed choice. The procedure breaks a key rule of Hippocrates:  
Do No Harm.

This is a civil & human rights issue -- in my opinion, circumcising vulnerable young people is unsupportable & should be made a serious crime.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tap Tap

The US government dipped into cellphone user accounts over 1.3 million times in 2011. Nine major US carriers (link) provided data released by US Rep.Edward J. Markey, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.

"Information shared with law enforcement includes data such as geolocation information, content of text messages, wiretaps, among others."

Carriers can be required to provide "cell tower dumps" of all calls & user data connected with an area tower in a given period; this includes location & data of many other people unrelated to law enforcement investigations.

There's very little judicial oversight of such activities. Rep. Merkey is reportedly concerned about what's done with the data collected.

The public also should be concerned: there's now no accountability as our private communications & on-line activities are monitored & exchanged among private sector technicians, the police, and ???.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation seeks to improve transparency and rule of law over such investigations.   You can join or donate here (link). Don't wait and be too late...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hawaiian Wins Gold !

One hundred years ago today in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku representing the USA won the 100 meter freestyle gold medal.He twice bettered the Olympic Record in preliminary rounds. Duke went on to win a total of five Olympic medals (in the 1912, 1920 and 1924 Games). His last Olympic competition age 42 was on the US Water Polo team in the 1932 Games.

Born Hawaiian, Duke became a US citizen at the age of 9 (US Hawaiian Organic Act, 30 April 1900) after the USA annexed Hawaii as a colonial territory.

Another hero of the 1912 Olympics was Jim Thorpe of the USA, a mixed race athlete (typically labeled Indian or "redskin") who won both the Pentathlon & Decathlon Gold Medals.

These athletes struggled to overcome racism. Their successes helped pave the way for a brighter present day world.

 The Hawaiian Gazette  12 July 1912, pg 1

 Sweden's King Gustaf V (on podium) confers Duke's 100-meter Freestyle Gold

A great celebrity, Duke Kahanamoku became perhaps better known for introducing & popularizing the Hawaiian sport of surfing around the world.

Yankee Go Home

Nearly 30,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea. Both governments seem satisfied with present arrangements. But it's ugly and frankly, it sucks.

Why should American taxpayers shoulder huge costs defending Korea? Korea is a proud member of the OECD and major economic power. The Korean people should police themselves.

Confronted with the American military, Korean civilians feel a mix of shame and anger.

The Japanese feel similarly about U.S. military forces in Japan (about 40,000 troops and US civilian employees). The Germans also dislike their foreign protectors. Regardless of good intent, the U.S. bases are military encampments, small violent destabilizing cities. Return the resources to decaying America.

Urgently: --- Yankee Go Home.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Nukenergy Luck

Successful nuclear power stations avoid accident -- perhaps through luck.

The downside to disaster is horrible.  Survivors face decades of life-changing cleanup.

It's not worth the risk.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Cut & Run Corporation

We are surrounded by, and rely upon, local, national & global companies. It should be more widely recognized that in times of serious trouble, most are constructed as "cut & run" corporations.

We give limited liability corporations the option of leaving creditors unpaid. Their cut & run often leaves the public holding the bag, paying assorted inflated costs for their mistakes. What an exit strategy!

Limited liability corporations should be very strictly regulated. A capitalist fundamental is to cut costs, so they can't regulate themselves. Horrible examples are Enron and the Madoff empires, found ultimately rotten to the core. TEPCO ("responsible" for Fukushima's nuclear safety) is another example.

The Libor rate manipulation scandal now engulfing major banks around the world shows corporate manipulation jerking the public to pay more. Again we're chumps, manipulated by insiders.

Such deceit and negligence must be criminal. The enabling conspirators should be heavily fined, shamed and imprisoned.

Joe Public pays the tragic flimflam costs... Republican "friends" never return his stolen money.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dirty Facebook?

Be cautious with your Facebook network. Keep your network closed for safety, and purge little-known "friends" who never post (perhaps a data collector's sham alias).
Americans should beware commenting on their friend's health: leaked information can damage insurance coverage. (Prospective) employers also monitor social networks...