Archive for January, 2014

More US nuclear missile officers involved in cheating scandal

Earlier this month, the 34 officers, who were in charge of launching nuclear missiles, were suspended.

Earlier this month, the 34 officers, who were in charge of launching nuclear missiles, were suspended.
Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:55AM GMT

The number of nuclear missile officers under investigation by the US Air Force over allegations of cheating has doubled from 34 initially to several dozen, officials said.

An Air Force spokesman confirmed the increase Tuesday but refused to mention a precise number in order “to protect the integrity of the investigation.”

Earlier this month, the 34 officers, who were in charge of launching nuclear missiles, were suspended either for cheating on a key monthly proficiency test last year or for knowing about the cheating but failing to report it.

On January 15, the Air Force said it discovered that one missile officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana had shared test questions with 16 other officers. Another 17 confessed to knowing about the misconduct but did not report it.

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“As the investigation has moved forward, we can now report there is a total of 92 crew members that have been identified as having some level of involvement,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday.

“That means either participating in the cheating or knowing something about it and not standing up and reporting it,” she said.

James said the nuclear force is beset by “undue stress and fear,” adding that the force suffers “systemic problems.”

According to the US Air Force, 17 officers initially were believed to have been involved in cheating on a monthly proficiency test to ensure they know how to maintain, and launch, nuclear missiles.

The tests in question are designed to ensure proficiency by launch officers in handling “emergency war orders.”

The Air Force has 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs, on alert at all times, with a contingent of about 500 launch control officers.

Ninety officers work in pairs inside 45 underground US launch control centers each day and each center monitors and controls a group of 10 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

The United States, which has thousands of nuclear warheads, upgrades the weapons of mass destruction on a regular basis.



More nuke officers implicated in test cheating scandal

A mockup is seen of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Jan. 9, 2014. AP Photo

WASHINGTON — Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday the number of nuclear force officers implicated in a proficiency test cheating scandal has grown to 92 out of a force of 500.

James spoke to reporters after touring nuclear bases around the country. The cheating has been found at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The Associated Press has revealed the overall nuclear force suffers from such low morale and burnout that they have committed serious security lapses and other breakdowns.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported earlier this month, when 34 were implicated in the scandal, that a launch officer at Malmstrom allegedly texted the answers to a monthly proficiency test to other officers at the base.
Launch officers have to pass other monthly tests as well, including a simulated launch, so the cheating probably says more about their integrity than about their ability to perform the mission, Martin reported.

James, who is new to the job, said the nuclear force is beset by “undue stress and fear,” and said the nuclear force suffers “systemic problems.”

The Air Force announced recently that initially 17 officers were believed to have been involved in cheating on the monthly proficiency test to ensure they know how to maintain, and launch, nuclear missiles.

The widening cheating scandal has set off a top-level search for solutions.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel summoned 15 of his top Air Force, Navy and nuclear mission leaders to the Pentagon, where they worked Wednesday to figure out whether cultural problems within the nuclear force make launch officers feel more compelled to cheat on their proficiency tests.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the officials spent the bulk of the meeting discussing the breadth of the problems, which include low morale, cheating and serious security lapses, and how to begin solving them.

“I think the general consensus in the room was that we all need to accept the reality that there probably are systemic issues in the personnel growth and development inside the nuclear mission,” Kirby told Pentagon reporters after the two-hour meeting with Hagel. “The secretary made it clear at the end of the meeting that he intends to do these on a regular basis.”

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Our aging infrastructure earned a D+ overall in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ annual report card. Here are the main culprits.

1 of 12
A span of highway bridge sits in the Skagit River May 24, 2013 after collapsing near the town of Mt. Vernon, Wash. © Cliff DesPeaux/Reuters
Pressing problems

All things being equal, it would be better for the country to have less debt. Nobody seriously disputes this, but the fact is that all things are not now, and are never really, equal. Today there is a strong argument that it is a wise time to make a strategic investment in U.S. infrastructure by adding to the country’s debt while interest rates remain extremely low.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014 ranked the United States a respectable No. 5 in term of overall competitiveness. But our prospects for the future are clouded by an infrastructure ranking that barely cracks the top 20.

On multiple ratings, the U.S. came out on top in exactly one category: the availability of airline travel. Other than that, rankings on the quality of roads (18th), rail (17th), ports (16th) and other measures show it trailing many of its international competitors.

Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its annual infrastructure report card, and awarded the U.S. a D+ for infrastructure. You can discount the ASCE’s findings as you please, considering the fact that civil engineers, as a whole, benefit from increased infrastructure spending, but the numbers are hard to argue with.

A few highlights from the report:

  • One in four bridges in the U.S. today are either structurally deficient, meaning that their condition has deteriorated to the point that they require annual safety inspections to remain open, or functionally obsolete, which means that they were built to such a low standard that they would be illegal to build today.
  • “Almost half of America’s public school buildings were built to educate the baby boomers – a generation that is now retiring from the workforce,” the report found. Meanwhile, annual spending on school construction fell to $10 billion in 2012, down 50 percent from pre-recession levels.
  • Congestion alone on U.S. highways costs the economy $101 billion in fuel and lost productivity every year.

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Where’s The Moral Outrage’ Over Daily Disaster Of America’s Bridges, Experts Ask

Posted: 01/15/2014 8:18 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/25/2014 4:01 pm EST

aging infrastructure bridges

The scene of a bridge collapse on Interstate 5 on May 23, 2013, near Mt. Vernon, Wash. The interstate connects Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., Canada. | Stephen Brashear via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Bridgegate has been a nightmare for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), but it could have one upside for the rest of America: The scandal has refocused desperately needed attention on the New York metropolitan area’s traffic bottlenecks and, more generally, the perilous state of America’s bridges.

For years, leading transportation experts have been sounding the alarm over the country’s aging infrastructure, warning that many bridges — primarily those built during or before the Eisenhower administration — struggle to handle today’s traffic demands.

The George Washington Bridge at the center of the Christie scandal is not on the most endangered list, although it is undergoing some major work. But the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has identified thousands of other bridges in poor condition that could present dangers to commuters.

In recent years, two highway bridges have actually collapsed. A bridge along Interstate 5 in Washington state failed in 2013 after it was struck by a truck. No fatalities were reported, but traffic between Seattle and Vancouver was redirected for nearly four months. In 2007, a bridge along Interstate 35 in Minnesota collapsed, killing 13 people. It was more than a year before a new bridge opened.

The state of New Jersey, Christie’s domain, has 6,554 bridges in all, and 651 of them are considered structurally deficient — meaning they are either deteriorating or severely damaged. More than one-quarter of them are considered functionally obsolete, meaning they no longer meet current standards, according to the ASCE. In New York state, 2,168 bridges out of 17,420 have been found to be structurally deficient, and 4,718 bridges are functionally obsolete.

The ASCE estimates that more than 200 million trips are taken across structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges every day in 102 metropolitan regions nationwide. One in nine of the nation’s 607,380 bridges are rated as structurally deficient, while the average age of bridges nationwide is 42 years, according to an analysis by the ASCE. In its authoritative report card for 2013, the group gave the country’s bridges an overall C+ grade.

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US spy chiefs say number of foreign militants in Syria rises

Militant Website / AP

This undated image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.

More than 7,000 foreign militants are fighting for the rebels in Syria’s civil war and some are being trained to return home and conduct attacks, U.S. spy chiefs told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The estimate, given at a Senate intelligence hearing, was much higher than earlier figures of 3,000 to 4,000 foreign fighters in Syria, and came after news emerged this week that Congress had secretly approved more funding to send weapons to “moderate” rebels.

“We estimate, at this point, an excess of 7,000 foreign fighters have been attracted from some 50 countries, many of them in Europe and the Mideast,” James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told the hearing.

“And this is of great concern not only to us, but to those countries,” he said at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on global security threats.

U.S. spy agencies had not previously made the figure of 7,000 public, though it has appeared in classified intelligence reports, a U.S. official said.

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US arms flow hinders Geneva II talks on Syria: Analyst

The ongoing Geneva II talks on the crisis in Syria will fail to yield “concrete” results as long as the United States continues to support the militancy in the Arab state, an analyst tells Press TV.

In a Thursday interview with Press TV, William Jones, with the Executive Intelligence Review, described Washington’s decision to send more arms to the militants in Syria as a “contradictory policy.”

According to Jones, the ongoing Geneva II conference, aimed at containing the crisis in Syria, will not “lead to anything concrete as long as there’s a policy of supporting the violence in the region.”

“They (Americans) are feeding in more guns and ammunition. The violence will increase and it’s hard to see how [Geneva II] negotiations under those circumstances can lead to a lasting peace,” added the analyst.

Jones made the statements after Reuters reported earlier this week that lawmakers in the US Congress had secretly approved the provision of US arms to the Takfiri militants fighting against the Syrian government.

Reports also say the US increased more than twice its supply of light weaponry and munitions to the militants linked to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA)’s Supreme Military Command in the month of January. The military command is aligned with the Western-backed opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

The Geneva II meeting, which opened in Switzerland on January 22, has already hit a deadlock amid sharp differences between the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition.

On Wednesday, UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said there is a “quite large” gap between the rival sides in the Geneva II meeting. He has also said that the ongoing talks have not produced much.


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Susie Quick of Midway, Ky., has resorted to wearing more layers while at home to help lessen her electric bill which has tripled.
Jonathan Adams / for NBC News
Susie Quick of Midway, Ky., has resorted to wearing more layers while at home to help lessen her electric bill which has tripled. When the temperature drops, Quick climbs into bed with her dog Roscoe to battle against the rising cost of heating her home.

Their teeth are chattering and their budgets are bursting like frozen pipes.

In nippy Dixie, some are dialing down the thermostats, then dressing in layers — inside their homes — and inviting pets into their beds to share the warmth, cursing their power bills as “hate mail.”

In the arctic northeast, some are canceling vacations, shelving clothes shopping, and even — horror of horrors — buying cheap wine, while fully admitting these are “first world problems.” But from north to south, scores of Americans are finding innovative ways to slash spending as they shovel more bucks into utility costs amid the nasty cross winds of soaring home-heating prices and blistering cold snaps.

“Dinners out? What IS that?!” asks Susie Quick, a resident of Midway, Ky., who is purposely injecting a chill into her home and her spending due to a monthly power bill that’s leaped from $90 to $300. Several southern states recently have shivered through the lowest temperatures in years.

“I walk around my house like a lumberjack in layers of silk underwear, plaid flannel shirt, down vest, scarf, hat, sweater leggings and furry faux UGGs. I only wish I could grow a beard for added warmth,” said Quick, who lives on a horse and cow farm, and who works as a medical editor at the University of Kentucky. Her house is electrically heated.

On recent nights, she’s been allowing her 45-pound coonhound and two cats to sleep with her — “if there was room for my horse, I’d bring him in, too.” As for food, she’s a “non-elective vegan” but said she can’t afford “pricey” fake meat like tofu hot dogs and tempeh burgers. Instead, she dines on rice and beans, and greens. Going to a hair salon is too expensive so she’s become “my own amateur hair stylist and colorist and I’m really afraid it shows.”

“I have three rooms shut off with towels down at the door bottoms to prevent drafts. My furniture is also lumberjack-chic and covered in blankets and throws. I refuse to succumb to a Snuggie, though a Thuggie has appeal. So House Beautiful this is not,” said Quick, who refers to her heating bills as “hate mail.”

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goptvclips goptvclips

Published on Jan 30, 2014

WTAE-PA: Pennsylvania Small Business Hit With Skyrocketing Health Costs From ObamaCare (January 29, 2014)


Opposition to ObamaCare now 2:1 … among the uninsured

posted at 10:41 am on January 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Behold, your chart of the day. This comes from Kaiser Health News, which has regularly polled on health-related policies, and in particular the uninsured in relation to ObamaCare. Since 2011, the support and opposition have remained fairly close together, but now that ObamaCare has been implemented, a dramatic change has taken place — and one the White House and Democrats won’t like:


KHN says, presumably without irony, that the reason for the sudden shift is unclear:

Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.

This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.

Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.

One reason could well be that there are more uninsured, and this time because of ObamaCare.

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File:Tom Coburn official portrait 112th Congress.jpg

Images Source  :  (Public Domain)

Official portrait of United States Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).



Remember When Sen. Tom Coburn Lost His Cancer Doctor Because of ObamaCare?

Bubba Atkinson | On 29, Jan 2014

Due to changes in his coverage due to ObamaCare, Sen. Tom Coburn, who has been diagnosed with a recurring case of prostate cancer and has survived colon and melanoma cancers, will not be able to keep his current doctors.

“I’m doing well from a health standpoint, got great docs,” Coburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday when asked about his health. “Fortunately — even though my new coverage won’t cover my specialist — I’m going to have great care, and I have a great prognosis.”

Thankfully Sen. Coburn has the means to afford the specialist he needs.

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Obamacare: Tom Coburn loses cancer doctor

By TAL KOPAN | 1/28/14 11:29 AM EST

Cancer-stricken Sen. Tom Coburn revealed Tuesday that his health insurance under Obamacare doesn’t cover his oncologist, but said he still is receiving excellent care. “I’m doing well from a health standpoint, got great docs,” Coburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday when asked about his health. “Fortunately — even though my new coverage won’t cover my specialist — I’m going to have great care, and I have a great prognosis.”

The Oklahoma Republican’s spokesman confirmed to POLITICO that since the senator enrolled in his health insurance plan under Obamacare, his coverage has been reduced and he lost coverage for his cancer specialist. Coburn will continue to pay out of pocket and see his oncologist, his office said.

Coburn made public in November that he had been diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer.

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  • Robin Clark, 44, shot in the thigh at Shenfield station, Essex, on Friday
  • Mystery attacker wearing a black mask sped off in a vehicle
  • Victim treated for leg injury but not well enough to speak to police yet
  • Armed officers are guarding him amid fears he was deliberately targeted
  • Mr Clark sent tweet reading: At what point on a first date do you mention you are emotionally unstable and in financial ruin?’
  • Car dealer says he tried to sell Range Rover for a quarter of its value

By Hugo Gye and John Stevens


Cheers: Robin Clark in a photo posted on his Twitter page

Cheers: Robin Clark in a photo posted on his Twitter page

Police are keen to interview a city trader dubbed the ‘Wolf of Shenfield’ as soon as he recovers after being shot in the leg while on his way to work, officers said today.

Robin Clark, who is believed to have been suffering from money problems before he was targeted by an unknown gunman last week, is currently under armed guard in hospital as he is treated for a serious leg injury.

The 44-year-old was shot by a man in a balaclava as he got out of his car at Shenfield railway station in Essex at around 5.45am on Friday.

Police have still made no arrests in the case four days later, and have been unable to talk to Mr Clark about the incident due to his serious injuries.

‘Our investigations into the incident at Shenfield on Friday, 24 January are ongoing,’ a spokesman said today.

‘The victim of the attack currently remains in hospital with a serious leg injury, and we hope he will be fit enough to be interviewed by officers in the next couple of days.’

Just days before the shooting, Mr Clark hinted that he was in financial trouble as he shared a message on Twitter stating: ‘At what point on a first date do you mention you are emotionally unstable and in financial ruin?’

The comment – originally made by another Twitter user before being retweeted, or forwarded, by Mr Clark – was his penultimate message before he was wounded.

Officers are investigating whether the shooting was related to Mr Clark’s money problems, but they say they have been unable to establish a motive so far.

Dozens of armed officers from Essex Police were scrambled to the scene while a large section of the car park was taped off

Dozens of armed officers from Essex Police were scrambled to the scene while a large section of the car park was taped off

Detective Superintendent Gary Richardson said today: ‘We are doing everything in our power to identify the motive behind the attack, which we hope in turn will enable us to identify the person or people responsible.
‘I would also like to repeat my reassurance to the general public that there is no reason for any undue concern as we believe this was a targeted attack.’

Mr Clark, a twice-divorced father-of-four, last year rented out his £2.2million five-bedroom house in nearby Ingatestone after running into debt.

Also last year, a county court judgment was filed against him for debts of £14,653 and he was director of a number of companies that were shut down while owing money.

The day before the shooting Mr Clark had tried to sell his Range Rover for £10,000.

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Cressida’s stepfather’s ‘suicide’: Financier known for his lavish parties was ‘huge influence’ in Harry’s girlfriend’s life

  • Financier Christopher Shaw, 76, said to have had financial problems
  • Friends told two years ago he had 18 months to live from kidney disease
  • Shaw wed Cressida’s mother, Lady Mary Gaye Curzon in 1994
  • They were together for six years, married for four, but divorced in 2000
  • Sources say he was strong influence in the life of Prince Harry’s girlfriend

By Richard Kay


Tragic: Christopher Shaw (right, here with 10-year-old Cressida and ex-wife Lady Mary Gaye Curzon) has been found dead at his home in Salisbury

Tragic: Christopher Shaw (right, here with 10-year-old Cressida and ex-wife Lady Mary Gaye Curzon) has been found dead at his home in Salisbury

The stepfather of Prince Harry’s girlfriend Cressida Bonas has died suddenly in what friends say was a suspected suicide.

Christopher Shaw, the one-time merchant banker, who wed Cressida’s mother, Lady Mary Gaye Curzon, during the Nineties at a time when he was one of London’s most lavish and generous party-throwers, is believed to have killed himself.

Shaw, 76, was suffering from ill-health and was said by friends to have been plagued by money worries.

Bon viveur Shaw fell madly in love with society beauty Mary Gaye who was previously married to Cressida’s father, businessman Jeffrey Bonas — he created a cocktail in her honour at Claridge’s called The Curzon.

Shaw was found dead by his housekeeper, Nicky, at his rented home in The Close by Salisbury Cathedral — virtually next door to Sir Edward Heath’s former home.

He is believed to have committed suicide by taking an overdose,friends said today.

Despite his financial problems Christopher, who celebrated his 76th birthday on New Year’s Day, had been in good spirits having just returned from a holiday in Cuba with the latest woman in his life.

He was on medication for chronic kidney disease and friends say he had been told two years ago he might have only 18 months to live.

Police were called to the house on Friday. A post mortem is to be carried out, but last night Wiltshire police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

The son of a country parson and a former head boy at Eton, father-of-three Shaw lived with Mary Gaye at the sprawling National Trust mansion Hinton Ampner in Hampshire, where he entertained in style with eight servants and five gardeners.

He also had a set in the Albany building. Guests at his parties included Sir Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch. ‘He was unique,’ says his long-time friend PR supremo David Wynne-Morgan. 

‘He decided at Eton that he wanted to live like a 19th-century landed aristocrat and he did just that.’

Married: The couple were together from 1992 and married in 1994 until 2000, when Cressida was 11

Married: The couple were together from 1992 and married in 1994 until 2000, when Cressida was 11. He was notorious for his lavish parties in London while they couple were together

Prince Harry arriving at a press conference about his trek to the South Pole in London today

Boyfriend: Prince Harry was in London today for a press conference about his charity trek across Antarctica

Influence: Married to her mother when she was aged five to 11, Mr Shaw was a huge influence on the upbringing of Prince Harry's girlfriend Cressida

Influence: Married to her mother when she was aged five to 11, Mr Shaw was a huge influence on the upbringing of Prince Harry’s girlfriend Cressida

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  • British-born Karl Slym was in Thailand for a Tata Motors board meeting
  • He died after falling from a high floor hotel window in a ‘possible suicide’
  • Police believe it would be impossible to ‘accidentally fall’ from the window
  • Officers said Mr Slym rowed with his wife Sally the night before he died
  • They found a three page letter from Mrs Slym to her husband in his room
  • Slym, 51, was hired to revive flagging sales at the Indian car giant
  • Tata Motors stock fell by more than 6% on Monday following his death
  • Company statement described him as a ‘valued colleague’ and ‘strong’ leader

By Nick Fagge and Ben Lazarus



The British boss of Indian car giant Tata Motors jumped to his death from a Bangkok hotel room following a blazing row with his wife, it emerged yesterday.

Karl Slym was handed a three-page letter by his wife Sally detailing a ‘family problem’ on Saturday night after she became so enraged she stopped speaking to him.

In the early hours of Sunday the managing director clambered out of the tiny window of his room on the 22nd floor of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel and jumped, landing on the staff accommodation block.

Fall: British-born Karl Slym, managing director of India's Tata Motors has died after reportedly 'jumping' from a hotel balcony

Fall: British-born Karl Slym, managing director of India’s Tata Motors has died after reportedly ‘jumping’ from a hotel balcony

Mr Slym was handed a three-page document by his wife Sally detailing a ‘family issue’ on the night he died

Karl Slym and his wife Sally, who had travelled to Thailand with her husband, during an awards ceremony

Karl Slym and his wife Sally, who had travelled to Thailand with her husband, during an awards ceremony

Mrs Slym had accompanied her 51-year-old husband to Bangkok for a board meeting of Tata Motors’ Thailand unit, but the couple were overheard engaged in a loud and bitter fight on Saturday night.

After giving her husband the letter she went to sleep, and only learned of his death from police officers who knocked on her hotel room door on Sunday morning.

Mrs Slym was treated for shock and was later interviewed by Thai police. She told them: ‘We rowed and rowed about family business from about 7pm. Then I wrote a long letter and went to bed.’

A Thai police source added: ‘The wife said that they had rowed so much about a family problem that she could not talk to her husband any more. They had been fighting and it had become very loud.

Mr Slym's body was discovered by staff on a ledge on the fourth floor of the riverside Shangri-La hotel

Mr Slym’s body was discovered by staff on a ledge on the fourth floor of the riverside Shangri-La hotel

Mr Slym, with an employee at a plant in Halol, was heard arguing with his wife on Saturday night

Mr Slym, with an employee at a plant in Halol, was heard arguing with his wife on Saturday night

Mr Slym and his wife were not talking the last time they saw one another, police said today

‘She went to the bedroom and decided to write her husband a letter to let him know how she felt. She gave it to her husband and then went to sleep.’ Officers declined to give details of the family problem.

Police Lieutenant Somyot Booyakaew said detectives found no sign of a struggle and were working on the assumption that Mr Slym committed suicide.

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File:Constitution We the People.jpg

Image Source  :  Wikimedia. org  (Public Domain)

Detail of Preamble to Constitution of the United States



We, The “Unwanted” People…

Submitted by Golem XIV via Golem XIV’s Thoughts blog,

The fact that the phrase sounds antique should warn us of the scale of our folly. We have lost, given away, pawned the power we once claimed. We have ceased to be who we once were. Or at least who we claimed and hoped to be – The People. Now who are we? The Consumer?  The Unemployed. The Unwanted?  ”We, the Unwanted” does not have the same ring about it does it? And yet that is what we are fast becoming. It is time to chose. Sit in front of your television or computer screen and let it sooth you, until one day you too find you have have become one of the unheard, unlamented, Unwanted. Or reach out to others and grasp hold.

It is surely time that we re-assert what the phrase “We, The People” once meant. It is suybolic I know. But symbols are powerful. And the powerful fear them.

For too long now we have been supine, docile and cowed. There have been sputterings of resolve when a million people took to the streets to oppose the War in Iraq. But the rulers of the day ignored us and ‘the people’ simply went home vaguely disquieted, perhaps a little hurt at being ignored but mainly just confused as to what to do next – if anything.

For decades now we have let others have the initiative, let others define what was acceptable and legitimate. When it was never their position to do so. This must stop.

Once, a certain people declared, “No taxation without representation.” It was and still is a simple idea. You may not tax me unless you represent my interests. Only those with my interests in mind may ask me for taxes. Today that definitiion of democracy has withered and been quietly replaced by another similar sounding but actually radically different version – I would say perversion – of democracy. Today we are taxed by people who represent every interest but ours. They are still representatives but not of our interests. Democracy has now become a kind of opera – more and more lavish in direct proportion to its separation from ordinary people and their lives.  Every four or five years we get to chose between two teams who represent some interest which is not ours. They may represent the interests of bankers, or global corporations, or militarists and the industrial complex which gets rich from their adventures, or some other grouping within the machinery of the State, or the intersts of a powerful global 1% – whatever interest they serve it is never yours and mine. For those who will clamour and say the Democrats or Labour or La Gauche represent the interests of the labour unions, WAKE UP!  It’s been decades since that was even partially true. Labour under Blair and Brown was Thatcherism by another name and ignored a million people who said very clearly and en masse, that the Bush/Blair war was unjust, illegal and unwanted. The Democrats under Obama followed the same financial and economic ideology as Bush, even chosing the same people to run things, and was as warlike and arrogant as well. Change? Tell it to a moron. He might believe you.

Democracy is broken. No one represents us. We are allowed only to chose between different teams of The Entitled who, once chosen, ignore us completely. The whole idea of a mandate has mutated. Once that idea meant that a government could do what it had said it would do when it was trying to win our votes. Beyond those things, it had to consider ‘The People’.  Today all parties consider that being elected means to be handed absolute power to do whatever they feel like doing, whatever they can ram through the tattered remains of accountability and oversight.

Elected dictatorship in installments is what we have today.  And when each installment, no matter the different names and colours of the teams, is almost indistinguishable from the last, what is representative democracy if not a street parade of oversized cartoon characters and their pantomimed arguments. Are we not amused?

If we do not speak up soon we will find when we finally do, nothing is heard but grunting and bleating. We are, to borrow a phrase from the brilliant Roberto Callaso, already walking through a vast slaughter house. And those who run it have no good intent.

It is past time when we must revivify what We the People means. We must stop reacting like frightened animals and take the initiative.We cannot allow those who presume to rule over us to continue to tell us what ‘must’ be done and to over-rule all debate by  insisting ‘there is no alternative.’ We must state what We the People will accept and what we won’t, what we regard as legitimate and what is not. It is for us to decide these things not them. It may seem like just words and on one level of course it is. But it was only words when it was said the first time. What those words did the first time and can do again, is to stop our rulers’ proclamations always being against a blank and passive background. Simply by declaring what We will and won’t tolerate or accept we force their proclamations to appear as what they are – aggressive, partisan and debateable.

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Does the Left Have a Future?

John Stauber on Wall Street’s Political Monopoly


This week I spoke with John Stauber, an investigative journalist, author, founder of Center for Media and Democracy, and most recently a  self-professed outside agitator, on the benefits of voting two party.

In an article you wrote for CounterPunch back in March, you zeroed in on the “Progressive Movement” a democratic money and propaganda machine/echo chamber run by liberal elites like OFA, Mother Jones, Van Jones, The Nation, and largely to name a few who sometimes fool progressives into supporting corporate causes and have co-opted messages from OWS to appear populist. Considering the far right has the left beat in the messaging game, how successful has the professional left been at advancing their neoliberal agenda on a larger scale? Are liberals really buying it?

A. These terms — progressives, liberals, left, populist, far right, neo-liberal — have different meanings for different people. I like to keep things simple and get back to basic principles and terms like democracy, individual rights and liberties, corporate power, concentrated wealth. The situation today is this: both the Democratic and Republican Parties represent the interests of the most powerful corporate elite in America. Neither party will ever represent the fundamental radical democratic changes we need to take wealth away from the small percentage who have concentrated it in their hands, and to empower people in a democracy. Let me repeat that: neither party will ever serve economic and political democracy.

The so-called “progressive movement” is made up of corporations run by paid staff and contractors who believe that the key to the future is to defeat the corporate Right, the Republicans, in elections. They believe that their own elite-funded propaganda campaigns on behalf of the environment, social justice, human rights, anti-monopoly politics, unions, can mobilize a public that can move the Democratic Party as a whole in this direction. That’s a farce and a fraud.

The crises facing us — poverty, ecological devastation, increasing concentration and power in the hands of the super rich and their economic institutions — are simply worsened by both corporate Parties, and those Parties run on elite wealth and massive propaganda. They are fully supported by all the established institutions of the society, including the corporate media.

But of course those of us who are radicals outside the corporate political parties are depicted as friends of fascism and the far right when we refuse to lend our support to electing Democrats. That will always be the case. And the extremely articulate and financially well rewarded pundits, flacks, and hacks of the professional “progressive movement” are dependent on the myth of two-party “democracy” to pay their bills, put their kids through school, buy houses, appear on TV, sell their books, and further their careers. They need deeply to believe this myth of American Democracy being advanced best through the Two Party system, because if they didn’t they’d be lousy at their jobs and would have a hard time living with themselves. It’s the cognitive dissonance of the salespeople; if you stop believing in the car or shoes or whatever you are peddling, you won’t be very good at selling it. So, they believe!

The problem we face is simple. It is the capitalist corporate economic system itself that is destroying the very ability of the planet to sustain life. Massive global poverty, super concentrated wealth and power, mindless consumerism, final destruction of the biosphere’s ability to sustain the industrial civilization — these are not issues that will be solved by the “professional progressives” with their clicktivism, talking points, game changing PR campaigns, and their support for reform via the existing political establishment. The evil shit is going to just continue to hit the fan, with no effective mobilized response because the professional reformers and their big NGOs suck all the air out of the room, and pose as a viable path to change. They are not.

Hillary Clinton is playing coy about her eventual presidential run in 2016 by saying,  “I will look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision next year.” Like Obama, she talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk and like Obama’s skin color, her gender is a driving force behind propelling her back into the White House. What can we expect from a female President Clinton?

A. Nothing will come from any Clinton but more of the same concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the corporate elite. Spying, war, destruction of the main street economy is what we can expect. But of course the billion-dollar sales pitch will be, “save our country from the Tea Party extremists, elect the first woman president!” It might work to get her elected, but don’t expect change.

Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton appear to be polar opposites, 99% vs 1%. Can Warren’s passion for economic justice rebrand and revive the long-dead democrat party? She’s got the brains and influence but given her defense of Obama and the Clintons at last year’s DNC, I highly doubt it.

A. Nothing can “revive” the Democratic Party. Democratic “progressives” promote this myth that somehow “we” can “take back” the Party of the people and need saviors like Elizabeth Warren to do it.

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