Thursday, 27 June 2013

Celebrating Trail mix at SCOTUS

This week certainly has been a mixed bag of nuts from the supreme court. Early in the week SCOTUS' decision on the VRA led to moves in Texas to deny voting rights of minorities within two hours.

Today, the discrimination promoted by DOMA and California's Prop 8 was gutted. But the decision was crafted in such a way that the federal governments ability to defend the rights of the people against rogue state legislatures has been damaged.

The comments from the right were pretty predictable. Shirley Phelps freaked out on twitter. Republicans banged on the "sad day" sound bite.

No one should have been surprised that Antonin Scalia dissented on marriage equality, what was surprising was how obsessed with man on man anal sex Scalia's comments were.

Michelle Bachman, whose lifestyle is perhaps most threaten by today's decision (just as soon as Marcus can find a nice interior decorator with which to settle down), opined that it is not for judges to over turn what god had wrought. Later, Nancy Pelosi, had the most apt and succinct response to Bachman's comments: "Who cares?"

But lets hear from dumbest man in the US Congress...

The more the political right focus on moralizing to the American people the more the American people embrace progressive politics. This may be what drove Texas Republicans to act so fast after the VRA decision, migration of progressives into the state is diluting the GOP vote and increasing attacks on women's rights are driving moderate Republicans away from the GOP.  No doubt this has the Texas GOP in a panic. Keep in mind, these are the people who developed the platform to take critical thinking and higher order thinking skills out of schools in the the run up to the presidential election.

Even GOP darling Bobby Jindal said the GOP has to "stop being the 'stupid' party" if it wants to remain a viable political force. It seems the message sailed passed them like a leaf in a hurricane. Poetic really, since the GOP's energy policies would rapidly create the conditions for more frequent and more powerful hurricanes by pumping carbon into the atmosphere as fast as the economy dig it out of the ground, with out regard to Copenhagen, or the already evident changes in climate.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Antarctic Albatros future uncertian says immigration minister.

On Thursday, the most severe storm in more than forty years hit the New Zealand capital, Wellington. Breaking sea walls from the south coast to Petone, disrupting power, road rail and air traffic. But also, albatrosses made land fall after being blown in from sub antarctic waters.
Many the Albatrosses were reported to be in shock, some with minor injuries and many with a distinct "What the f*&^ am I doing here?!" expression, said keepers at Wellington Zoo, who are also taking care of a number of other sea birds, some of which have more severe injuries. 
Late Friday, immigration minister, Michael Woodhouse, expressed concern that these albatrosses were using resources allocated for New Zealand wildlife and that he had signed a treaty with Australia for offshore processing of asylum seekers to
"prevent this sort of thing". He continued "I don't like the way these birds have sought to undermine our territorial sovereignty. Questions must be asked about the Navy's monitoring and handling of this case. Really how could they miss them? "

Minister also "We'll be looking at deporting these albatrosses, just as soon as we can determine their country of origin." It is understood that officials are having difficulty communicating with the albatrosses who do not speak any English, or any language they recognize. Officials also the albatrosses have no identification papers, noting "It is a common ploy used by those with criminal records in their own countries to attempt to hide their identity and claim refugee status."

See also
  Albatross rescued at airport after crash landing
  Australia - New Zealand refugee agreement

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Florida: Zombie Apocalypse preparations started

In the the run up to the 2012 US presidential election, Josh Whedon noted that Mitt Romney was well prepared for the Zombie apocalypse...

Why would any one say that? You might well ask.

The close relationship between ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and Republicans is well documented. Including the incident in which 1534 journalists fell out of their chairs laughing when one GOP legislator forgot to put her name on a piece ALEC crafted legislation.

Perhaps there is a deeper reason, Mitt Romney and others in top business are so comfortable with a zombie apocalypse, ... it is part of the business plan. Ultimately the goal is to capture the entire money. They started extracting money from the general economy in the mid 1980s through neo-liberal economics, better known as Reaganomics and more recently described as Rigonomics.

The problem is that once enough money is taken out of the system, eventually there is not enough money remaining for people to live on.  In order to preserve business interests as people stop living and become zombies, ALEC has crafted legislation now passed into passed into Florida law designed to keep the zombies at work rather than dawdling in the street and eating brains.  The legislation criminalizes sick-leave for all Florida workers.

Critics of this plan note that servers at restaurants frequented by ALEC members and sponsors may expose patrons to infected material.

Herb Havataul, CEO of Richmond Flux Capacitors, said "Look,  I'm not sure zombie thumb is something I want in my clam chowder, but it has to be done. we want the money supply."

To date there has been no word on a release date of the zombie virus. Analyst, Dick Witham, says "starvation and overwork continue to be keeping cognitive acuity to minimum in the slave,  er working population, Jim Jones was certainly on to it on people management".

Witham also notes "This is the most cost effective strategy, we could shoot them, but at 15c per shell, that would cost millions, this way we get something out of them. It really is a methodology that must be used only in exceptional circumstances, like when they try to eat your face, a teenager looks at you funny, and of course in situations where life and limb maybe under threat, like negotiating with a union or giving a deposition to ACLU lawyers."

Also worth noting 50,000 ballot voters voted to make sick-leave a legal requirement. Witham comment "Well, that'll never work, we can't have people not working, They might start thinking and demanding to get back some of the money we stole from them in 2009, worse yet, the last 30 years."

GOP hero Rick Scott, stepped in using the ALEC crafted bill, to make sure the "working" were kept to busy to recover from fatigue, ebola, necrotising faciitus, swine flu, bird flu, west nile virus, rickets, shingles, botulism or zombie virus, and thus the plan to own the money supply continues, but it certainly was a close one.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Big Girls blouse with a badge.

There have been a few strange incidents lately, offering peculiar insights into the minds of law enforcement agencies and the companies who pay for off-duty offices to provide their security. Once, the public perception of law enforcement  personnel was the of a strong an confident personality ready to solve any problem, protect and serve the public. But that perception is being damaged. Incidents are occurring with regular monotony of security and law enforcement  overreacting to the slightest provocation.

Recently homeland security agents felt so threaten by a journalist, Laura Poitrus, using her pen to take notes that they insisted that she put away her weapon. It was said the the pen is mightier than the sword, at a time when pens were made from quills, now that the are made from plastic and steal the also appear to be mightier than pepper-spray, side-arms, and Tazers. Even when there was one of her and two of them.

Miami-Dade beach cops tackled and choked 14 year-old Tremaine McMillian after seeing him roughhousing with his friends, after talking to him, he went to get mom. That was when they pounched. What triggered this attack? In the officers word a "dehumanizing stare". As the attack started officers knock the six week old puppy Tremain was carrying out of his hand. This overreaction has a followup in court. Tremaine has been charged with resisting a police officer. At the arraignment the judge has committed Tremaine to trial.

What's going on here? Are they hiring panty-wastes to protect and serve? Probably not.

In Laura's case her work as a journalist has set her at odds with authorities for exposing some of the lies and secrets of the US government and the industrial complex. Include the documentary The Oath that examines the cases former Gitmo detainees returned to Yemen. And, as of early last week, filming the interview with Edward Snowden.

In Tremains case, the most likely explanation is a combination of racism and a career working with drunks, and abusive characters creating an overly cautious mentality. Problem is it too easy to think worst of people just because of the their skin colour. As a recent hidden camera test showed people will let a white guy steal a chained up bike some queried what he was doing, most ignored him. But when the actor was replaced with a black actor, one passer-by grabbed the chain breaking tools and told the camera crew as it revealed itself to go after him.

Just exactly what constitutes terrorism seems to be shifting. Once upon a time, maybe ten years ago, everybody was sure that it required an act of mass murder for the purpose of furthering a political goal. Today some terrorists are so vicious they let security-guards and police officers handcuff them and walk them away from large scale sit-ins. One of them was so dangerous he hung a sign on his own neck say "world war 2 veteran: Handle with care". These "terrorists" are known house-wives, farmers, builders, technical professionals. Of them the farmers are the worst as they continually meander over land they own or lease. Like me you are probably thinking that doesn't seem very terroristic, who is calling these people "terrorists"? That would be TransCanada. The people described as terrorists are mainly from the well known hot bed of terrorist activity that is Nevada. This is where TransCanada is constructing the Keystone XL pipeline, which is as well received as ... ebola virus. 

TransCanada needs Presidential sign off for the Northern league of Keystone XL. If there is one thing that terrorizes the folk inside TransCanada more than anything it is the possibility that President Obama will veto the northern league. The case for the pipeline is weak. Canadian Oil sands will add 140ppm CO2 to the atmosphere. The business case presented to the congress was prepared by a consultant with close ties to TransCanada. Also the jobs the project creates are limited in comparison to other energy technologies.

This reminds me of The Hollowman, in which Kevin Bacon, becomes invisible, but wears clothing and a latex mask so people can see a public face while he hide dark secrets and an agenda everyone else rightly sees as barking mad once they figured out what he was up to. The rhetoric against the NO-KXL campaign, is a thinly veiled lie used to employ off duty law enforcement and security firms to protect equipment and supplies. Perhaps also keeping workers from having to be bothered by the idea that they are betraying their neighbours, and their own families' futures.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

TransCanada exposes massive bong plot.

TransCanada has been working with the US and Canadian governments to expose terrorist elements among the anti Keysone-XL protest movement. Officials holding a press conference in conjunction with the White House Press corp reveals. They released few details but reveal that the attack would have left the nations capital "devastatedly happy".

SWAT raids in Yockle, Nebraska, found a 20 mega tonne bong ready for loading on to a privately own air freighter. "We were stunned by what we saw, splifs the size of Noahs Ark" said lead officer Eric Himler.

A manifesto mailed to the New York Times in an envelope with Yokle post marks claimed
"We are the children of the Earth and she is hurting, right. She asked us to help her with her pain relief medication, right. We love her and cannot deny her, right.
Our plan is simple, right. While the lobbyists were sleeping or otherwise occupied with the munchies, right. We would give congress time pass legislation requiring dirty energy companies to pay for their polution and end exploration subsidies, right; Out law astroturfing and pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United, right; and end the failed war on drugs, right.
White House spokesman  Jay Carney described the plot as "potentially the most devastating assault on democracy in history," he went on to say "We are so grateful we can spy on American citizens without warrants or reasonable cause in the manner made possible by the Patriot Act and NDAA. We'd like to thank the ACLU for not busting us on it."

See Also
  TransCanada: Protesters are "terrorists"
  TransCanada: Nebraska landowners "terrorists"
  Mass arrests of KXL protesters ensnare farmers, veterans, soccer moms.
  ACLU sues administration over Prism

Friday, 14 June 2013

Big Oil heading for Big Crunch or big Crash

Now that peak-oil has come and gone where are we now? Peak Oil described the period of time when oil production from traditional and relatively easy land based oil drilling would be at its maximum, that was about 10 years ago. Gone are the days when using 1 barrel of crude oil would translate to 20 barrels of new crude extracted from the ground.
The reduced supply, and the extra costs in drilling at sea, or of the many small drill sites involved in shale-gas extraction. Today, the extraction industry delivers as little as 2-4 barrels equivalent barrels. Shale gas extraction is especially expensive, since transporting equipment, fracking fluids, "produced" fluids, requires many large "gas guzzling" trucks.
Oil sands suffers from essentially the same problem. But on top of that, Canadian oil sands alone, are set to add another 140ppm for atmospheric CO2 which is in-congruent with organized life on this planet. So far climate change has seen the planets temperature rise <1°C. Already we have seen consequences. Some days in the last Australian summer were so hot that petrol(gasoline) evaporated before it reached the tanks of motor vehicles. Ohio was too hot for corn to fertilize in 2012. Wildfires in Colorado, and Sandy in New York. These freak weather incidents are becoming the new normal.  New Zealand now has a tornado season, and the media have stopped using "80 year" flood/drought terminology any more because such events are now seen so regularly they are really "5-10 year" events.
Over the last 40 years, litmus paper dipped in ocean water has been coming out a different colour. Ocean water is now 30% more acidic than it was in the 1970s.
Warmer air absorbs more water, Water evaporates from the soil faster, the air carries more water before reaching saturation. as the air moves and its pressure falls it now dumps more rain often in places and in such quantities declarations of emergency from local and national authorities are inevitable. The air is now 5% wetter. Europe is seeing floods in summers, 20million Pakistani people were displaced by floods in a region that never sees floods(so much for Mosaic rainbows).
It seems to me, and I could be well wrong, that the last time the climate changed this fast was 65m years ago, and saw the extinction of dinosaurs.

Well known liberal radical bastions (that's sarcasm for the benefit of Louie Gomert and Michelle Bachman) Price-Waterhouse Coopers, the International Energy Agency, and the World Bank, point to the world heading for trouble. Price-Waterhouse Coopers the people who count the Oscar votes looked at the proprietary databases of the extraction industry and found 2795 giga tonnes (Gt) of carbon in their business plans. The world bank noted that there is no chance of development in a world with rapidly rising temperatures. The International Energy Agency's annual report says 80% of the carbon in the business plans of extraction companies must stay in the ground. The maximum amount of carbon the atmosphere can absorb is 565Gt - any more than that and temperatures rise above the 2°C safe limit agreed upon in 1995.

While Copenhagen was haled at the time as a great starting point, you might be forgiven for thinking there should by now be some bold new action plan that would have been decided upon and agree to with exciting projects receiving public funding, new jobs, international cooperation. But so far bold international agreement is limited to the 1995 aggreement that anything more that 2°C would be bad. Indeed subsequent climate summits have been mired in in-fighting and nations arguing to get some advantage for petty self interests. Worse still corporations have effectively bribed law makers to do nothing that would hurt their industry including public investment in competitive industries like Wind or Solar industries with politicians using sound bites like "we don't pick winners".

But despite the dearth of support, renewable clean energy is coming online and growing fast. The Carbon fuel industry will face real competition from primarily wind and solar. The world largest coal company, Coal India, uses solar power in its facilities because it's literally cheaper than burning coal straight out of the ground. Solar generation, is already approaching grid parity in India, and will soon be cheaper than other generation that they are using.

What does this mean? It means carbon energy is losing market share, while its expense base is rising. Much profit is made through commodities speculation an derivatives. What will happen when the bottom drops out of the market? First up investment is under downward pressure from concerned ethical investors who are divesting funds from Big Carbon investments. Eventually this will cause the Big Carbon share price to crash. These divested funds wont disappear, they go into other funds and the stock market can remain stable. What ever you do don't get caught with Big Carbon stocks in your portfolio unless you want to take a bath, especially you big banks.

Bill McKibben spoke ineloquently but effective at The Embassy Theatre in Wellington last night. I was surprised to read in The Listener article that the New Zealand Superfund has over NZ$22b invested in big carbon. If you are a KiwiSaver it will be in your best interest to lobby for divestment from big carbon. Because when Big Carbon goes down investors will lose big.
As an ethical consumer you might want to avoid Z fill-up stations too. Shell the Parent Company for Z is exploring off the Otago/Southland coast putting the fishing industry at risk.
Another way to avoid adding more carbon to the atmosphere is to use filtered used vegetable oil with a dash of ethanol.

Putting the breaks on insanity in reproductive rights begins in Virginia

Virginia voters, seem to have had it with intrusive reproductive legislation and Democrat candidates chose by primary vote have elected to candidacy over well funded rockstar candidates. Meanwhile GOP candidates were hand picked by Virginia's RNC, and are the most rightwing line up Virginia has seen in a long time.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
This is a winning strategy of course, doubling down on extreme rightwing dogma, stupidity and anti-scientific nonsense is the way to put ultra-conservative candidates where they belong - into the political dust bin.

The Virginia state elections may be another canary for GOP. But they haven't gotten the message from 2012, and their choice of candidates confirms this. While Christians are fond of say the road to hell is paved with good intentions it seems the road to political oblivion is paved with Biblically justified misogyny.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

"I know the calls you made last summer"

Their concerns for privacy seem well founded
The title of today's post is a parody of the movie title I Know What You Did last Summer, a suspense horror in which a mysterious antagonist takes revenge on a bunch of teenagers. And somehow the tone seems to suit the NSA's snooping into the lives of ordinary American citizens.

Revelations by the ex-CIA administrator/analyst,  Edward Snowden, appear to have nudged the house of cards that was the legality of the programme. Under American law no one had legal standing to challenge the programme or it legality because no one who had been targeted by knew they were targets. But the revelations mean every American can now claim standing, and the ACLU have already file suit against the NSA. Searches without reasonable cause or legally warrented by a judge are required under the American Constitution's 4th ammendent and federal law. Now that the legal standing issue has been pierced, short of changing the constitution and federal law NSA's Prism program is in violation of the principle of "unreasonable search and seizure" enshrined in the constitution and law.

The full video of Edward Snowden's interview with the Guardian:

Even the secret Pfizer courts, in previous judgements express opinions characterising this program as barely legal. Palantir corporation, 3news revealed have an office in Wellington. John Key admits that he knows them.  What is more interesting perhaps is a comment from Palantir's CEO "We are the best that money can buy, feels good to be gangstas." Palantir is one of three security contractors who conspired to use technology available to them against commercial and political adversaries.

Palantir's "Prism" software "consolidates" online activity and phone call data to create a picture of what people are doing. Connecting the dots so to speak.  This is the technological version of much that was hated, feared and loathed about the Stazi, for both the citizen's who lived it, others to whom the story of their vaults of "intelligence" gathered by informants. Surely then, they too said "If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

In the best possible world this would not be a problem, but consider this: Your resident's association needs a new venue for monthly meetings, organising gardening competitions, street parties, organising submissions on local council rates/property taxes, charity drives, etc. But since the local catholic chapel has been sold to a property developer to pay fines and couselling for the victims of a fiddly priest the only suitable location is a local Mosk. So for several years you phone in and arrange booking times have your usual meetings it is all in a good cause.  But a young man has taken a liking to fundamentalist Islamic dogma and has attempted or done something stupid, perhaps like the Boston bombing. Questions are raised, about the Imam his teaching and preaching, and your connection with them, perhaps when the Imam was busy or away he arranged for the young to open and close the Mosk for your group, and a few weeks ago a meeting had to be reschedule to make room for a wedding reception. "The gardening competition is a cover to get Ammonium phosphate, Admit it ! You helped him build the bomb! We have the phone calls, the emails, of secret meetings, Just admit it and we will go easy on you, or you'll be looking at 25 years in super max."

This essence of this fictional scenario, actions of innocent peaceful citizens being viewed with suspicion as the actions of criminals, has played out in explosive fashion in many incidents through history as authoritarian governments work too hard to control the people they should be serving.

Yes, I'm trolling the NSA with this post.

Monday, 10 June 2013

How the rightwing loves and hates Darwin.

Rick Perry considers himself a biblical literalist. So much so that he flirts with throwing rocks over Jefferson's the wall of separation of church and state, by holding stadium sized prayer meetings.  The Texas State Board of Education has experienced some capture in an attempt to diminish understanding of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Texans will remember how Perry funded oil industry tax cuts, by cutting social programs, CPS, and education budgets.

The Concerned Women of America express fear that teaching the fact of evolution would essentially result in social Darwinism. But it seems other rightwing groups don't have a problem with a Darwinian society, especially those calling themselves libertarians.

And yet, a social Darwinist society, is the very type of society that we see emerging from "supply side economics". In which the interests of the wealthy are served at the expense of the poor and middle class society. Indeed the principle of this in specifically criticized by Richard Dawkins in his hour long interview with Wendy Wright of Concerned Women of America, in which he states it would not desirable to have a society in which the rich prey on the poor.

An examination of the 60 years to 2010, reveals the effect of Gordon Gekko's "Greed is ... good" which went on to say "Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

Earnings Growth1950-801980-2010
Lower 90%$13,222
Top 0.01%$2.4m

The rising tide did raise all boats until Reaganomics (or "Rigonomics") left the majority of Americans in dry dock. America's economy has grown and increased the net wealth of the nation but where is that wealth going? Certainly not to the lowest 10% their incomes have decreased in real terms by 4.4% .

It mainly goes to people like the Walton heirs, the Koch brothers and wall street speculators. The people who think proverty means having to sell your second summer home in upstate New York and who fix interest rates for bribes like day-old sushi rolls. And what do they do with all this money. Gambling. Not at Los Vegas, well not much compared to what they throw into the derivatives markets - remember that thing that imploded in 2008. Nek Minit, The US Government/Tax Payer is on the hook for a bailout for the bad "gambling" debts of the Wall Street Banksters.

Walmart is interesting, It costs the American Tax Payer $900k for each store, because the wages they offer are so low, staff must use welfare entitlements to survive. The same entitlements which are targets for downward pressure in yet more tax breaks for Corporations and the Wealthy. President Obama is not playing this game. And GOP is repelling, even blackmailing, the administration, and perhaps the nation to  be allowed to loot the public purse/wallet to fund their gambling habit.

The rightwing also embrace Ayn Rand's doctrine of Objectivism which might be described as the philosophy of the Sociopath. Indeed one particular sociopath caught attention of Ayn Rand and became the target of high praise from her for his shrugging off social norms. He became notable at the for kidnapping, dismembering and attempting to ransom a 12 year old girl.

This doctrine is used just to justify actions that many would consider immoral, even those who consider themselves conservatives. For example, many employers  like to be good employers, for example CostCo, and see staff as assets to be maximized, rather than cost to minimized. Seeing staff as liabilities, discourages training investment that leads to operational problems for the business, cutting profits, and further cutting staff, in an endless drain circling cycle. Investing in staff, however, minimizes problems and maximises profits, and makes paying a living wage possible. But, rightwingers will say "Corporations have the right to do anything to maximize profit", which is often a response to criticism of poisoned water tables. It seems they miss the concept that doing good things, valuing people, particularly staff, and natural resources on which they depend, can be more profitable than reinvented slavery, or environmental vandalism. Tourists don't exactly flock to fracking dump sites to admire the spectacle of dead or deformed wild life.

Ultimately, the irony is the evolution by natural selection is a beautiful, compelling and useful explanation of natural history without which much of medicine would little more than voodoo, while social Darwinism is a doctrine that would replicate the predation and vicious aspect of wild species. Is it possible they don't get irony? Certainly not this particular irony.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

How today's Tea Party is a betrayal of the Boston Tea Party

It has been previously revealed that the Tea Party Patriots is a fake  grass roots movement paid for by Koch Industries and Philip Morris and after a few incarnations Becoming the Tea Party in 2002.
The original Boston Tea were protesting  corporate cronyism behind the 1773 Tea Act giving the East India Company a 100% tax break on exports to the American colonies.
Today Tea Party seems to have corporate tax breaks on the brain, or as some sort of anorexic obsession. The Tea Party of Boston might perhaps be repulsed or revile the corporate sycophantic Tea Party of today.

See now the words of one man who participated in the Boston Tea Party protest, from the memior of George R T Hughes, who was 17 on the night of the breaking of tea chests.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The CEO's prayer.

Our corporation, which art in it for the money,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy profit come.
Thy will be done in earth.
As it is in the business plan.
Give us this day our daily advertisements.
Forgives us our trespasses,
as we sue sue those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into insolvency,
But deliver us with bailout.
For thine is the revenue,
The power, and the media,
For the stockholders and investors.