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Michael Collins's blog
(Washington, DC 1/21) A long standing Money Party front, the Business Roundtable, wants you to wait until you're 70 years old before you get Social Security and Medicare benefits. This is just a reprise of the November 2012 dictate from the king of corporate cronyism, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. (Image: DonkeyHotey) (Greenspan statement)
The boss announced, "So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained." Lloyd Blankfein, CBS News, November 2012
That's easy for Lloyd to say. He makes tens of millions of dollars a year without so much as lifting a finger. You can be sure that Blankfein has a deluxe health insurance and retirement plan.
United States and European Union sanctions against Iran prevent much needed medical care for the Iranian people. Those with cancer, for example, have lost the option of treatment through chemotherapy while hemophiliacs are at high risk for any surgery due to a denial of essential pharmaceuticals. There are 85,000 new cases of cancer every year in Iran. Those with cancer and the newly diagnosed will have to do without effective treatments. A large percentage of them will die sooner than anticipated as a result. (Image: Fergal of Calldagh)
The Iranian medical community is unable to get required medicines due to financial restrictions in the sanctions regime. The restrictions effectively blocks pharmaceutical purchases by Iranian medical facilities. No ticket, no laundry is the policy of big and little pharma throughout the world. As a result, right now -- as you read this -- innocent Iranians are dying, sentenced to death by the U.S.-E.U. sanctions.
Who on earth would initiate and sustain such a policy?
(Washington, DC, 12/9) Here we go again.
A few days later, British Prime Minister David Cameron's foreign secretary claimed that he had evidence the Syrian government plans to use chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the rebels.
After Obama's December 3 warning, Syria denied any intent to use the weapons "no matter what the circumstances" as they had after an earlier Obama warning.
Does the government of President Bashar Assad intend to use chemical WMD?
(Washington, DC 11/24) It takes a real pharaoh to build a pyramid, especially one that lasts five thousand years. It took President Mohamed Morsy of Egypt one speech for the Egyptian public to see him for what he aspires to be - a new pharaoh, with powers beyond those of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. On Thursday, November 24, Morsy stood in front of a government building and announced a de facto dictatorship. (Image: llee wu)
The two key provisions of his decree concern a new constitution for Egypt and his absolute powers. There can be no challenge whatsoever to "all constitutional declarations, laws and decrees" made by Morsy until the new constitution is ratified and a new parliament has been elected. Then, he gave himself this blanket guarantee of absolute power until the next election: "The president is authorized to take any measures he sees fit in order to preserve and safeguard the revolution, national unity or national security." Egypt Independent, November 22
(Washington, DC, 11/15) The bitterness of the neocons knows no limit. They're still having tantrums after being denied the unchallenged ability to pillage and plunder at will (and at our expense). Never mind that the public doesn’t want to hear it. The Congressional Republicans are jumping up and down over their big question: When did President Obama know about the affair between General Petraeus and Mrs. Broadwell? Talk about a misguided salvage operation. Their inquiries will spark some questions that they won't want asked. (Image)
The real questions concern the behavior and motivation of General Petraeus in the aftermath of the murder of the United States ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, on September 11, 2012.
When did General Petraeus know the sequence of events that preceded the murder of United States Ambassador Stevens, indicating the likely motivation for the murder?
The Petraeus CIA provided inaccurate information about events on the ground to the Obama Administration, particularly to President Obama and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. Did they know it was inaccurate?
If the Petraeus CIA mislead or withheld information from the White House or allowed that to happen, was it in the service of the Romney campaign or those clamoring for an attack on Iran?
Part I of this series suggested that there may well have been massive vote flipping for candidate Mitt Romney in the Republican primaries (Rigged Elections for Romney (10/22/12) The article and the initial research analysis were received broadly. In addition, highly motivated citizens across the country and a team of high school students contacted the authors for help replicating the research in their states. The researchers, Francois et al., point out that this can be done with their open source techniques.
The basic argument is straightforward. If you look at precinct level voting data arranged from the smallest to the largest precincts, you will see Romney's gains increasing substantially as the cumulative vote increases. For example, Ohio and Wisconsin show this clearly as do eleven other states presented here. This extraordinary vote gain from smallest to largest precincts is so out of line, that the probability that this would happen by chance alone is often less than 1 out of a number represented by 1 preceded by 100 zeros and a decimal point, a value beneath the statistical package’s lower limits. As a result, the researchers termed the suspected vote flipping for Romney the “amazing anomaly.” (The Amazing Statistical Anomaly)
By Michael Collins
A group of independent researchers caught a pattern of apparent vote flipping during the 2012 Republican primaries that consistently favored Mitt Romney. A form of election fraud, vote flipping occurs when votes are changed from one candidate to another or several others during electronic voting and vote tabulation. (Image: Dean Terry)
Vote flipping is difficult to detect because the vote totals remain the same for each precinct. In one of several possible scenarios, an instruction is given to a precinct level voting machine or to a county-level central tabulator. The corrupted totals from precincts are sent from county election officials to state elections board and published as final results. (Primary documents for this article: Republican Primary Election 2012 Results: Amazing Statistical Anomalies, August 13, 2012 and 2008/2012 Election Anomalies, Results, Analysis and Concerns, September 2012).
The group's analysis is based on raw data from primary sources, local precincts, and state and county election records. The pattern of vote flipping raises serious doubts about the Romney victories in the 2012 Republican primaries in Wisconsin and the Ohio. Apparent vote flipping was demonstrated in the group’s paper for at least nine other 2012 Republican primaries as well.
(Washington, DC 10/6) The United States and European Union are setting the stage for a Syrian invasion. (Image)
Turkey is the fall guy.
The Turkish parliament provided Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan with a broad authorization "to make the necessary arrangements for sending the Turkish Armed Forces to foreign countries" Hurriyet, October 4, 2012. The vote was on party lines with the dominant AKP party forming a majority. Muharrem İnce of the CHP opposition party said: "This motion has no limits. You can wage a world war with [it]."
The warning about the road to war may be near reality. McClatchy Newspapers just reported the following:
ISTANBUL -- One day after winning blanket authority to send forces into Syria, Turkey’s prime minister warned Friday that his country is "not far from war" and said that it would be a “deadly mistake” for the Syrian government to test Turkey’s will. McClatchy Newspapers, October 6, 2012
Texas School District(s) Allow Male Administrators to Paddle Female Students
Sometimes keeping up with our societal decline becomes a bit too much. For example:
SPRINGTOWN, Texas — Like many schools in Texas, “spare the rod and spoil the child” might be considered the motto at Springtown High School.
But when two teenage girls there reportedly suffered bruises after being paddled by male assistant principals, some parents complained. They weren’t upset about the punishment itself, but instead that the school violated the policy requiring an educator of the same sex as the student to dole out the paddling. Associated Press, September 24 2012
The school board for Sprigtown, Texas responded by expanding official policy to allow male administrators to paddle female students. There were no restrictions on prurient motives or sexual arousal by male administrators while administering the structured beatings. AP failed to report any serious questioning of the process save those by People Opposed to Paddling Students, a Texas-wide organization opposed to corporal punishment. Seventy-five percent of Texas school districts allow paddling as punishment, some for minor offenses up the line of disciplinary. (Image: The Faculty)
First appeared in The Agonist
Listening to Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention, I couldn’t place where I had come across something quite like this before. Then it struck me – Pravda! I used to subscribe to Pravda in high school and college, first to learn Russian, and second, to pursue a college program in Soviet studies. Pravda was a newspaper that specialized in the Big Lie – the Five Year Plan was always ahead of schedule, Soviet industrial capabilities exceeded that of any other country, people were starving on streets all across America. The newspaper was a non-stop stream of lies, just as Paul Ryan’s speech was studded with Big Lies – lies that were easily disprovable, such as Barack Obama did nothing about the Simpson-Bowles recommendations to reduce the budget deficit (Paul Ryan didn’t mention he voted against these recommendations when the House killed any chance of enacting them); or that Obama made it easier for people to live off welfare (the President altered the enrollment rules of welfare at the request of Republican governors); or the Romney favorite – Obama cut over $700 billion of Medicare benefits for individuals (the cuts were imposed on hospitals and insurance companies, not beneficiaries, and Romney has the same cuts in his economic plan). (Image: Wikipedia)
What really scandalizes us is that the Western world is encouraging this rise of sectarian violence just to topple the [al-Assad] regime. Mother Agnes Miriam, Syria
NATO and Saudi supported Free Syrian Army democracy warriors are attacking and killing Christians in Syria. Reports indicate that various Christian denominations are special targets for kidnapping, violence and intimidation. (Image) For example:
"Syrian rebel forces have trapped over 12,000 Greek Catholics in a village near the Lebanese border, causing shortages of food, medicine and other urgent supplies." CNA, August 25
The Greek Catholics in the village of Reblah may suffer the same fate as Christians in Qusair who were forced to seek refuge in Lebanon recently after their village lost supplies for days thanks to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The residents were told to leave or face annihilation. They chose to leave.
The public is just beginning to pay attention to the key issues of the 2012 presidential campaign. Even at this early stage, there is a clear trend in opinion against vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher program. On this and other key issues, Ryan's very explicit positions and legislative proposals spell doom for the Romney campaign. Ryan's record and a Republican platform endorsing those extreme views are Romney's albatross.
A Pew Research poll, August 23, exposes the impact of one key campaign. Medicare Voucher Plan Remains Unpopular captures the impact of timing for Ryan's exposure as a hard core, right wing extremist.
Basically, Ryan destroys Medicare by turning it into a voucher system. Seniors would receive a grant from the Federal government to purchase their own coverage (on those useless exchanges Obama created, perhaps). The additional costs represent 35% of median senior income in 2022 and go up from there to 50% of median income by 2050. A Republican death panel, this approach will deny a major portion of seniors of part of all of their medical services.
The Syrian regime should be smashed fast.
Mr. Bashar al-Assad doesn't deserve to be on this earth.
Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister
Voice of America August 17
What do you expect from a fake socialist government? French President Francois Hollande joined the Empire Project's histrionic chorus just as soon as he could after taking office. His comrade, Mr. Fabius, announced the nouveau reign of terror policy toward foreign leaders who upset the grand plans of NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council states.
By Michael Collins
Al Jazeera's weekend coverage of the critical battle for Aleppo, Syria reveals a major obstacle for the United States-NATO Empire Project. Hardly anyone in Aleppo is signing up to fight with rebels.
Reporter Anita McNaught: "[The rebels] know they have to win if the revolution is to succeed but Aleppo was slow to demonstrate any widespread support for the opposition." The reticence was due to fear of Syria's intelligence service a local claimed.
McNaught followed up: "Why now, when the Free Syrian Army was so quickly consolidating its hold, were its ranks not being swelled by volunteers from the city?"
One of the rebels (gesturing in image) responded: "They are afraid of the situation now. It's new to them. It's not like the countryside all around here which has had time to get used to the fighting." Trauma requires practice.
By Michael Collins
The United States of America is struggling with economic problems that leading economists call a depression. When you count all of those without jobs seeking one, unemployment is 22%. That figure defines a serious crisis. While we wait for the Obama administration to do something for the people, we can be comforted to know that the president is wasting his time meddling in Syria by supporting rebels who count al Qaeda among their comrades. This was all a secret until Reuters told us about it yesterday. (Image)
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.
This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government. Reuters, August 1 (Alternate link)
The term intelligence finding used to describe Obama's action on Syria is a neologism. The more accurate term is stupidity finding. Why?
By Michael Collins
Obama administration support for Syrian rebels is based on a United Nations authorized report from November 2011. In that document, Syria is accused of committing "crimes against humanity." The report's co-author is a board member at a Washington, D.C. based think tank that just happens to have the former chairman of ExxonMobil, a consultant for the Saudi Binladin Group, and a former CIA executive on its board of directors.
Much of the U.S. and European press on the so-called civil war originates from a tiny organization in the United Kingdom called the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (the Observatory). The one man operation is run by a longtime opponent of Syrian Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
For the most part, this is how we know what we know about Syria.
By Michael Collins
The assault on Damascus by Syrian rebels and terrorist murder of the Syrian Defense Minister occurred just as the Red Cross announced that the fighting in Syria was officially a civil war. This is an odd reward system for military action by the Free Syria Army. Commit enough acts of violence and you're rewarded with special protections that apply in times of war. (Image)
The rebel Free Syria Army attacks cities and villages, disrupts the Syrian economy, and is in the business of suicide bombing. It has the material and diplomatic support of Saudi Arabia and the other oil oligarchies plus the big guns in NATO. So-called Syrian experts supporting the carnage are amply funded by United States sponsored nongovernment organizations.
Rebel cheerleader Hillary Clinton spans the globe to "build pressure against the Syrian regime," to "end" it, her exact words. She seeks punishment for who disagree, China and Russia.
It's hard to tell how the latest regime change project will come out. The real Syrian Army seems to win every engagement. China and Russia support the Assad government. At the same time, despite strong public opposition to any intervention, the Obama government is pushing hard to force Assad out of power. NATO and the Saudis seem unwavering.
"A consortium of 18 heavyweight investors is calling for Mr Murdoch to stand down as chairman in the interests of good corporate governance and be replaced by an independent figure who is seen to be acting in the best interests of shareholders." The Independent, July 20
The investors have filed a resolution to remove Murdoch from power at the October News Corp shareholders meeting. The resolution will accompany those already filed by large investors in the United States.
What upsets the 18? Murdoch and his family have too much control. That control serves the family well, but not the shareholders. Specifically, recent scandals have hurt News Corp performance.
By Michael Collins
(Washington, DC 7/11/12) Hillary Clinton has a very serious problem. She thinks that she runs the world and that those who disobey her must be punished, China and Russia in particular. Our chief diplomat behaves like a drunken bully, makes rash demands, and spoils for a fight with countries that can do some serious damage. (Image: Sascha W)
Over what? Regime change in Syria. Clinton is the tip of the spear for the project to control the Arab Spring movement. Her efforts have little to do with democracy. It is about controlling the agenda in the oil rich Middle East and the effort to prop up the decadent Saudis royals and other oil rich leaders hiding behind a nebulous organization called the Gulf Cooperation Council.
By Michael Collins
One goal of Egypt's 2010 union inspired Tahrir Square protests was fulfilled during the December, 2011 parliamentary elections. Nearly 65% of the nation's fifty million eligible voters turned out to vote. Turnout for the June 16 and 17, 2012 presidential election dropped to an estimated 15%* according to local and press observers. What happened?
Three factors contributed to the exponential decline in voting. Egypt's courts took leading candidates off of the final presidential ballot. The disappeared candidates had the support of 68% of the electorate according to a major preelection poll in early May. Egyptian courts also disqualified one third of the recently elected parliament. Just a day before the election, military commander Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced that the constitution had been annexed. This was a nice way of saying that the military was assuming most of the powers of the presidency, leaving the newly elected chief executive with little to do.
By Michael Collins
Here is perfect example of crony capitalism. Greek leaders do a very bad deal in secret with the help of the geniuses on Wall Street. It turns out badly for he Greek people by creating an economic crisis. As he crisis worsens, predicted shortages of medicine and exponential price increases emerge. Patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer,diabetes and other critical diseases face drug shortages and out of control price increases.
"On Thursday, the [Greek] multiple sclerosis patients' association warned that if the problems persisted, sufferers could be 'led to their deaths'. Associations representing cancer, diabetes and kidney disease patients have also spoken of the gravity of the situation. 'Finding medicines,' said the MS association, 'has become a marathon for people with chronic illnesses.'" The Independent, June 9
What happens if multiple sclerosis is untreated?
"Conclusions: This first large study in untreated patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) with different disease subtypes shows that brain atrophy proceeds relentlessly throughout the course of MS, with a rate that seems largely independent of the MS subtype, when adjusting for baseline brain volume." Assessing brain atrophy rates in a large population of untreated multiple sclerosis subtypes, Neurology, January 31, 2012
By Michael Collins
(Chantilly, VA 6/3/2012) The Bilderberg Group completed its annual meeting today in Northern Virginia. The group was founded in 1954 by the financial, political, and military elites of Europe and the United States. Annual meetings provide for "regular, off-the-record discussions [to] help create a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations in the difficult post-war period." Bilderberg Meetings, Official Website
The inherent contradiction in this mission statement is glaringly obvious. These are the very same people who put in place and control the governments and programs that they're meeting in private to "discuss." Don't they discuss these things before and during their masquerade of governance?
The group's official meeting website says, "What is unique about Bilderberg as a forum is the privacy of the meetings, which has no purpose other than to allow participants to speak their minds openly and freely."
When the world's ultra-rich and powerful meet to address major sociopolitical problems in a forum based on privacy, it's time to take a closer look.
By Michael Collins
(Washington, 2/30/2012) At the end of Monday's Leveson Inquiry with Tony Blair on the stand, Lord Justice Leveson sent the credibility of the effort's summary findings straight to Hell. After Blair's pressured presentation and an interruption by a protester who called Blair a war criminal, Leveson began an odd exchange with the former Prime Minister. It began with this request to Blair:
Lord Justice Leveson:
2 So whatever assistance you can give, who have
3 thought about how you change things for the future, I'd
4 be very interested. Let me give you some potential
5 issues. (May 28 transcript page 38)
If things had ended there, this could be seen as a modest invitation, one Leveson might have offered any number of witnesses as a general courtesy. But the justice was not finished. He outlined specific issues covering five pages of transcript.
By Michael Collins
(Washington, 5/28/2012) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before the Leveson Inquiry today. He retains that familiar fatuous exuberance for failed policies and continues to deny the deadly lies he told in over a decade as Prime Minister. He was, as always, quite literally unbearable.(Image: Niecieden)
President George W. Bush had major problems selling his disastrous invasion plans for Iraq. The public smelled a rat. Strong majorities of both Democrats and Republicans opposed a preemptive invasion without confirmation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by UN inspectors. That was during December 2002 and January 2003. Bush needed something special to push his diabolic plan over the top.
Blair's government released two fraudulent intelligence papers during the critical period just before the March 2003 Iraq invasion, the September 2002 report and the Iraq or Dodgy Dossier in early February 2003. Rupert Murdoch's media cartel led the charge for war. He headlined stories about both bogus reports including the outrageous claim that Iraq could launch chemical weapons at the invaders within 45 minutes of an attack and the big lie about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger to develop nuclear weapons..
Blair and Murdoch worked together to provide Bush with the credibility to tell the most disastrous lie ever told by a president:
By Michael Collins
So, now it's an imperative to "promote growth."
The joint statement (full text after the jump) from the G-8 meeting in Chicago documents the utter failure of the very leaders who issued it. Were they capable leaders with the least knowledge of economic downturns, the statement would not be necessary. Nevertheless, they deserve some credit for admitting their deficiencies. Unfortunately, they have no serious solutions. (Image Banksy)
The joint statement has some weasel words like "We commit to fiscal responsibility" to balance the urgent words about growth and jobs". That reflects the atavistic positions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Merkel suffered a huge set back in the Westphalia state elections with her Christian Democratic Party losing 25% to 50%. Corporate media maintains that her popularity as a leader is higher than ever.
Her Scrooge faction comrade, PM Cameron is also pushing austerity. Nobody can pretend that his polling is any better than his party. The Conservatives were wiped out in local elections and Cameron is going down without a life jacket.
By Michael Collins
Criminal charges against Rupert Murdoch insider and favorite Rebekah Brooks may be a prelude to looming charges arising out of Brooaks' testimony before the Leveson Inquiry last week.
Crown Prosecution Services charged Brooks, her husband, and four others with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on Tuesday May 15. The alleged conspiracy took place between July 6 and July 19, 2011.
Brooks and the co-conspirators concealed and removed materials sought by police in their investigation of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation subsidiary, News International, according to prosecutors. Brooks resigned as chief executive officer of the subsidiary on July 15, 2011. (Image: SnowViolent)
Brooks' current legal troubles should not obscure the significance of her testimony before the Leveson Inquiry last week. During her several hours on the witness stand, she was confronted with an explosive email that, if true, implicates Conservative Party Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a conspiracy to pervert the British regulatory process in favor of News Corporation's bid to acquire the ten-million-subscriber pay TV company BSkyB. News Corp owns 39% of the company. It sought the remaining 61%.
By Michael Collins
When things don't work out, doing business with Murdoch can be the kiss of death.
No matter how hard you try, how loyal you are, if something goes wrong, you can be sure it will be your fault.
Reporting has failed to lay the proper foundation for understanding Rupert Murdoch's remarkable testimony before the Leveson Inquiry in London and his behavior of late.
Rupert Murdoch is a nihilist.
Murdoch’s television outlets in the United States stoked the fires for the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on outrageous misrepresentations like the idea that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The war cost tens of thousands of dead and seriously injured U.S. soldiers, several hundred thousand dead Iraqi civilians, and $3 trillion. (Image: acb)
Last summer, Murdoch went full throttle to support Republicans in the U.S. Congress as they fabricated a debt ceiling crisis that seriously damaged the credit rating of the United States of America.
Murdoch’s support of the Tea Party created an utterly irrational voice in U.S. politics that prevents even the most modest necessary reforms. Created by right wing lobbyists, this pseudo party blocks every vital project, from reviving the economy to an effective, coordinated response to the crisis created by climate change.
Rupert Murdoch's reign over the $33 billion News Corporation hinges on events surrounding the company's ownership share of Britain's dominant pay TV network, BSkyB (Sky). As Business Insider said, "it's the only asset that really matters" in the News Corp collection of media properties.
As a result of Murdoch scandals, News Corp lost the chance to buy 100% of Sky's shares. More troubling for the media monarch, the company may lose the 39% interest it already holds if British regulators determine that Murdoch is not a fit and proper owner. This would fuel the major News Corp shareholder suits in Delaware and New York that seek to remove Murdoch as board chairman and vastly diminish his power and that of his family and cronies.
Sky reaches 25 million viewers in 10 million homes. Revenues are growing at 10% a year with adjusted operating profit growth averaging around 16% of revenues (see 2009 through 2011). Revenues from 2012 through 2016 should top $70 billion total with adjusted operating profits around $11 billion. What happens with Sky really matters.
By Michael Collins
Rupert Murdoch is in big trouble. It is not a perfect storm but we're getting there.
British attorney Mark Lewis is in New York to take legal action in behalf of clients who may have had their phones hacked in the United States.
More significantly, News Corp withdrew its bid to buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB, the highly profitable British cable TV franchise (£1.1 billion 2011, News Corp owns 39% now). (Murdoch images: left, right)
Last week, James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of BSkyB after surviving a challenge to his position just weeks ago.
By Michael Collins
"My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views," he [Zelikow] continued. "They did more than that: The  White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives." Phillip D. Zelikow, State Department Counselor, 2005-2007, to Congress, May 13, 2009
Former legal counsel to the Department of State, Phillip Zelikow, produced a convincing and elegant argument for the immediate cessation of anything that looked like torture in February 2006. The government declassified the memo last week and National Security Archive released it on April 3.
The failure to follow Zelikow's clear statement of the law, withholding the memo without justification, and the failure to prosecute those responsible for the previous acts represent evidence of crimes.