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Top U.S. Terrorist Group: the FBI

February 23, 2013 in Blogs

By David Swanson, davidswanson.org



A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States: the FBI.

Imagine an incompetent bureaucrat.  Now imagine a corrupt one.  Now imagine both combined.  You're starting to get at the image I take away of some of the FBI agents' actions recounted in this book. 

Now imagine someone both dumb enough to be manipulated by one of those bureaucrats and hopelessly criminal, often sociopathic, and generally at the mercy of the criminal or immigration courts.  Now you're down to the level of the FBI informant, of which we the Sacred-Taxpayers-Who-Shall-Defund-Our-Own-Retirement employ some 15,000 now, dramatically more than ever before. And we pay them very well.

Then try to picture someone so naive, incompetent, desperate, out-of-place, or deranged as to be manipulable by an FBI informant.  Now you're at the level of the evil terrorist masterminds out to blow up our skyscrapers. 

Well, not really.  They're actually almost entirely bumbling morons who couldn't tie their own shoes or buy the laces without FBI instigation and support.  The FBI plants the ideas, makes the plans, provides the fake weapons and money, creates the attempted act of terrorism, makes an arrest, and announces the salvation of the nation. 

Over and over again.  The procedure has become so regular that intended marks have spotted the sting being worked on them simply by googling the name or phone number of the bozo pretending to recruit them into the terrorist brotherhood, and discovering that he's a serial informant.

Between 911 and August, 2011, the U.S. government prosecuted 508 people for terrorism in the United States.  243 had been targeted using an FBI informant.  158 had been caught in an FBI terrorism sting.  49 (that we know of, FBI recording devices have completely unbelievable patterns of “malfunctioning”) had encountered an agent provocateur.  Most of the rest charged with “terrorism” had little or nothing to do with terrorism at all, most of them charged with more minor offenses like immigration offenses or making false statements.  Three or …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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New Study Shows Capital Gains Tax Cuts Biggest Contributor to Income Inequality

February 23, 2013 in Blogs

By Mijin Cha, Demos.org



A new study looking at changes in wages and salaries, capital income, and in taxes found that capital gains and dividends made the largest contribution to income inequality. As the study states:

By far, the largest contributor to this increase (in income inequality) was changes in income from capital gains and dividends. Changes in wages had an equalizing effect over this period as did changes in taxes. Most of the equalizing effect of taxes took place after the 1993 tax hike; most of the equalizing effect, however, was reversed after the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts.

Capital gains were already the largest contributor to income inequality in 1991. But by 2006, the contribution of capital gains to income inequality almost doubled. Capital gains contributes so much to income inequality because of  the large increase in their share of after-tax income. Continuously cutting the tax rate meant that more after-tax income came from capital gains and dividends.

The rise in income inequality is due more to changes at the top of the income distribution than at the bottom. While income for all Americans grew 25 percent from 1996 to 2006, it grew 74 percent for the top 1 percent and 96 percent for the top 0.1 percent. A large part of this was again driven by continuous cuts to income and capital gains taxes.

In short, the affluent have been keeping more and more of their income while ordinary Americans have faced stagnant wages and disappearing benefits.

 


Sat, 02/23/2013 – 13:09

…read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Moyers: Rampant Capitalism Has Created a Social Disaster — How Do We Right the Ship?

February 23, 2013 in Blogs

By Bill Moyers, Richard D. Wolff, BillMoyers.com



From BillMoyers.com:

Economist Richard Wolff joins Bill to shine light on the disaster left behind in capitalism’s wake, and to discuss the fight for economic justice, including a fair minimum wage. A Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and currently Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School, Wolff has written many books on the effects of rampant capitalism, including Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. There’s hardly a sentient grown-up in this country who isn’t aware that our economy is no longer working for vast numbers of everyday people. The rich and powerful have more wealth and power than ever; everyone else keeps losing ground. Between 2009 and 2011 alone, income fell for the 99 percent, while it rose eleven percent for the top One Percent. Since the worst of the financial crisis, that top One Percent has captured the increases in income while the rest of the country has floundered. Stunning, isn’t it? The behavior of many of those One Percenters brought on the financial crisis in the first place. We turned around and rescued them, and now their wealth is skyrocketing once again. At the bottom, working people are practically flat on their back. President Obama has finally recognized they need help. In his State of the Union, he proposed an increase in the minimum wage:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to nine dollars an hour.

BILL MOYERS: But as the economist Dean Baker points out this week, “If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50 an hour today.” We talk a lot about what’s happening to the middle class, but the American Dream’s really become a nightmare for the poor. Just about everyone has an opinion about the trouble we’re in – the blame game is at fever pitch in Washington, where obstinate Republicans and hapless Democrats once …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Nanoparticles Are in Our Food, Clothing and Medicine — And No One Knows for Sure How Dangerous They Might Be

February 23, 2013 in Blogs

By Heather Millar, Orion Magazine



This article first appeared at Orion Magazine under the title “Pandora's Boxes.” You can enjoy future Orion articles by signing up to the magazine's free trial subscription program.

 

A pair of scientists, sporting white clean-suits complete with helmets and face masks, approach a prefab agricultural greenhouse in a clearing at Duke University’s Research Forest. Inside are two long rows of wooden boxes the size of large horse troughs, which hold samples of the natural world that surrounds them—the pine groves and rhododendron thickets of North Carolina’s piedmont, which at this moment are alive with bird song.

Looking a lot like the government bad guys in E.T., the two men cautiously hover over a row of boxes containing native sedges, water grasses, and Zebra fish to spray a fine mist of silver nanoparticles over them. Their goal: to investigate how the world inside the boxes is altered by these essentially invisible and notoriously unpredictable particles.

The researchers are part of a multidisciplinary coalition of scientists from Duke, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Howard, Virginia Tech, and the University of Kentucky, headquartered at Duke’s Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT), that represents one of the most comprehensive efforts yet to measure how nanoparticles affect ecosystems and biological systems.

So far the questions about whether nanoparticles are an environmental risk outnumber the answers, which is why the Duke scientists take the precaution of wearing clean-suits while dosing the boxes—no one’s sure what exposure to a high concentration of nanoparticles might do. Among the few things we do know about them are that they sail past the blood-brain barrier and can harm the nervous systems of some animals.

The regulation of nanoparticles has been recommended for more than a decade, but there’s no agreement on exactly how to do it. Meanwhile, the lid has already been lifted on nanotechnology. The use of man-made nanoparticles has spread into almost every area of our lives: food, clothing, medicine, shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, and thousands of other products.

Regulatory structures, both here and abroad, are completely unprepared for this onslaught of nanoproducts, because nanoparticles don’t fit into traditional regulatory …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Case for Closing Liquor Stores

February 23, 2013 in Blogs

By Susan Cheever, The Fix



Liquor stores attract violent crime the way honey attracts flies. On manymaps showing the location of both liquor stores and violent crime, the dots representing crime look like metal filings drawn to a powerful magnet—the booze outlet. Thediscovery that violent crime is related to places, not only people, and that about half of all crimes tend to occur in about 5% of locations, was made in New York City in the 1980s. Focusing on the role that alcohol outlets play in a city's violent crime patterns has vastly improved the effectiveness and efficiency of policing. But when it comes to the obvious logical conclusion—that the number of stores be dramatically reduced—public officials have balked. Putting small businesses out of business is not the American way.

Since the 1980s, this systematic approach has changed the way crime is dealt with in many states. So-called criminogenic places, or hot spots, often have poor lighting, transit stops, abandoned buildings, nightclubs and…liquor outlets. A mass of evidence showing the connection—in terms of both proximity and concentration—between liquor stores and crimes like murder, rape and assault has come from all over: IndianaRiverside, California, Baltimore’s John Hopkins University, and the environmental think-tank the Pacific Institute, using statistics from New Jersey to Australia, to name a few. 

In a study at the University of California/Riverside comparing federal crime data for youths, ages 13 to 24, to a wide range of factors, including the density of liquor (and beer and wine) outlets, in 91 of the biggest US cities, researchers found that a higher concentration of booze businesses was significantly linked to higher rates of homicide. Access to alcohol was right up there with poverty, drugs, guns and gangs. And of all these causes, only liquor stores are even remotely susceptible to direct control. “Our findings suggest that reducing alcohol outlet density should significantly reduce the trends of youth homicide,” said Robert N. Parker, co-author of the UC/Riverside study.

A related study found even more specific factors that further underscore the connection between liquor stores and crime: including more retail outlets that sell single-serve containers of alcohol in their coolers. Even the percentage of cooler space made a difference—the more space for loose Millers, grab-and-go Four Lokos and …read more
Source: ALTERNET