November 2011 Archives

U.S. District Judge Rakoff Blasts SEC


The Security Exchange Commission is supposed to monitor the financial market to prevent wrongdoing but in reality has had a far too cozy relationship with it. Now a federal judge has called the SEC to task for it's policy of letting banking institutions "off the hook" by shielding them from public scrutiny of their wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Judge rejects $285M SEC-Citigroup settlement

Cites need for public to know more about allegations financial giant misled investors

By Larry Neumeister

A federal judge on Monday used unusually harsh language to strike down a $285 million settlement between Citigroup and the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying he couldn't tell whether the deal was fair and criticizing regulators for shielding the public from the details of what the firm did wrong.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said the public has a right to know what happens in cases that touch on "the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives." In such cases, the SEC has a responsibility to ensure that the truth emerges, he wrote.

Rakoff said he had spent hours trying to assess the settlement but concluded that he had not been given "any proven or admitted facts upon which to exercise even a modest degree of independent judgment." He called the settlement "neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest."

The SEC shot back in a statement issued by Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami, saying the deal was "fair, adequate, reasonable, in the public interest, and reasonably reflects the scope of relief that would be obtained after a successful trial."

The SEC had accused the bank of betting against a complex mortgage investment in 2007 -- making $160 million in the process -- while investors lost millions. The settlement would have imposed penalties on Citigroup but allowed it to deny allegations that it misled investors.

Citi said it was reviewing the decision and declined to comment.

The SEC's consent judgment settling the case was filed the same day as its lawsuit against Citigroup, the judge noted.

"It is harder to discern from the limited information before the court what the SEC is getting from this settlement other than a quick headline," the judge wrote.

"In much of the world, propaganda reigns, and truth is confined to secretive, fearful whispers," Rakoff said. "Even in our nation, apologists for suppressing or obscuring the truth may always be found. But the SEC, of all agencies, has a duty, inherent in its statutory mission, to see that the truth emerges; and if it fails to do so, this court must not, in the name of deference or convenience, grant judicial enforcement to the agency's contrivances."

He set a July 16 trial date for the case.

WiFi Kills Sperm?


Just don't download with the laptop on your lap. Solved.

Wifi-enabled laptops may be nuking sperm

The digital age has left men's nether parts in a squeeze, if you believe the latest science on semen, laptops and wireless connections.

In a report in the venerable medical journal Fertility and Sterility, Argentinian scientists describe how they got semen samples from 29 healthy men, placed a few drops under a laptop connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi and then hit download.

Four hours later, the semen was, eh, well-done.

A quarter of the sperm were no longer swimming around, for instance, compared to just 14 percent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer. And nine percent of the sperm showed DNA damage, three-fold more than the comparison samples.

The culprit? Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication, say Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba and colleagues.

"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," they write in their report.

"At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect."

A separate test with a laptop that was on, but not wirelessly connected, found negligible EM radiation from the machine alone. The findings fuel concerns raised by a few other research teams.

Some have found that radiation from cell phones creates feeble sperm in the lab, for example. And last year urologists described how a man's sitting with a laptop balanced on his knees can crank up the temperature of his scrotum to levels that aren't good for sperm.

So between the heat and the radiation from today's electronic devices, testicles would seem to be hard-pressed.

Normal Folk


April 25, 2002

Did you ever wish you could stop all the craziness you have been living year after year after year and settle down to being a regular and normal person?

Me neither.

For Instance, I love happening to go out on a Sunday morning slogging though empty streets to gather toxins for that day's escapade and be there just in time to see the regular folk spilling out from thir church and standing around in their Cleaver uniforms socializing. Its always such a major culture shock to be reminded that people still do that sort of thing...and in earnest yet!

But the best part is that the jarring of the consciousness it gives you offers you the opportunity to choose between feeling like a transcendent being, saddened by the spiritual poverty of people who would willingly attempt to corral creation to save their own skins rather than just accepting themselves being creative...

or, seeing such a tight knit herd of cows, content with their cud and their cut, can dredge up the funky fuckuped fears and insipid insecurities pumped in with the candied cereals and commericals for other candied stuff. You clutch your ragged little hobo bag of open ended faiths a little tighter to your chest and scurry through or around the edges of the herd hoping to avoid being spotted as a threat to the cloning programs of Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca or most anywhere in Texas or Alberta.

Ok, I don't really know much about any of those places or the majority of people in them, but I have seen each them honor their conservatism by copious and prideful blood letting. Tell you what...the useless killing stops and I will lose the cartoon criticisms and donate to the local chamber of commerce...ok, y'all?...ciao...shalom]

I usually choose the transcendent perspective because nothing makes me more invisible while navigating their bulk than to radiate an unwarranted superiority. In order to protect my brain from the spiritual ichor the proselytizing premise their dogma forces them to spew like projectile vomit, I center my attention on hummed little diddies from the past:

"...another virgin mary
another case is shut

have another helping

prime cut of baby's butt..."

Todd Rundgren, you so funny.... and dead on.

or maybe Bowie's anthem refrain

"don't believe in yourself

don't deceive with belief

knowledge comes with death's release


I mean I don't particularly think any knowledge is suddenly made available to us during the process of shutting down (except maybe the realization that you really should have foregone the Unidentified Decaying Object you found in the back of the fridge earlier). So hey, Dave, that last line sucks except for the way it pushes the melody. Its just as bullshit as the Great Salvation premise.

I loathe organized philosophies. They always decanter out as power bases and patriarchal Borg obsessed with machining a future perfection of the Universal Penis from the practice rapes on the members of their own community.

Anyway, its not nearly Sunday yet so I shouldn't get myself all worked up over

realizing how much I love being not normal. Its not like I pursue being odd and avoid being normal to define myself as a child might act out to get attention.

I am just not very subject to dogmatics and fixedness in general and I am not fearful of having the picture change in ways I didn't predict. I inherently assume I am creation creating a single view of itself. Why identify yourself with being less than that?

Hit it Sister Sibbery:

" take a look around
you see all these people on the street
but if you ask them hard enough
you will find they do not feel worthy of love...

how did this come to be?"

It came to be because western culture's common world view is based on a nasty, harsh, jealous God of judgment who ruthlessly destroys all those might refuse to use their free will to love him, no matter how many times he comes home drunk in the middle of the night to beat on the family and rage about his weaknesses he perceives in others. Eventually this is how the west came to perceive the natural and normal state of the universe; patriarchal, violent and contemptuous of its creations. These ideas of what is normal is exactly how children are indoctrinated by parents who consider themselves normal because they too were indoctrinated and the cycle thereby is refreshed with each set of clones who are no better at seeing this in themselves than fish are aware of the water they swim in.

I don't want to be normal because normal people are just little fractal maps of a hugely fucked up take on the grand design of things.

- 0 -

Epilogue Nov 2011: What's changed? I don't do the toxins on purpose any longer.

From the Old Anvil


The way we were...I found this looking for something in the original ratboy's anvil files.
It was dated Sept 21, 2004 and it exemplifies the degree of sheer hysteria of the day.

Language Profiling


What did they think, that the writing was going to explode in mid-flight?

Arabic-style writing prompts flight cancellation

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) -- Midwest Airlines canceled a flight ready to take off for San Francisco after a passenger found Arabic-style handwriting in the company's in-flight magazine and alerted the crew.

The plane, carrying 118 passengers and five crew members, had already pulled away from the gate at Mitchell International Airport Sunday evening. It returned to the gate, the passengers got off, security authorities were notified, all luggage was checked and the aircraft was inspected. Nothing was found.

The passengers were put up in nearby hotels and booked on a Monday morning flight.

The writing was in Farsi, the language used in Iran, said airline spokeswoman Carol Skornicka. She said she didn't know exactly what the writing said but was similar to a prayer, "something of a contemplative nature."

Next: Passengers refused flight for smelling like tabouleh.


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Achtung Alabama


Alabama immigration crackdown nabs Mercedes executive

As Mercedes-Benz executive Detlev Hager negotiated the streets of Tuscaloosa last week, he drove right into the controversy over Alabama's tough new immigration law.

The rental car he was driving, lacking a tag, caught the attention of a local policeman, who stopped Hager on Wednesday. When the officer asked for a driver's license, all he had on him was a German ID card.

"He was taken into custody," Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson said.

Under Alabama's new immigration law, considered the toughest in the nation, everyone in Alabama must carry a valid identification card, including U.S. citizens. Before the new law, a citation would have been issued and the driver would have been sent on his way. Now offenders are taken to jail, Anderson said.

A U.S. appeals court last month blocked Alabama from enforcing part of its new immigration law, including a controversial provision that permits Alabama to require public schools to determine the legal residency of children upon enrollment.

But the court ruled the state could continue to authorize police to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally if they cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.

"In international travel, it is not uncommon to have to produce a passport," Greg Canfield, Director of the Alabama Development Office, said after Hager's arrest.

A New String Theory


Humans are the Universe's infinitely weirdest invention.

Doc explains mysteriously massive buttocks


By Dr. Anthony Youn

News that Oneal Ron Morris was arrested for injecting a woman's buttocks with a combination of cement, Fix-A-Flat, mineral oil and Superglue stunned readers. But even more shocking are the photographs of the alleged perpetrator that reveal the incredible size of her rear end. Her curves would make Jessica Rabbit blush! While the vast majority of the population inquiring about buttock enhancement would refuse treatment by an fake physician, photos reveal that Morris likely acted as a walking advertisement for her illegal practice.

So just how did Morris's behind become so massive? I truly doubt that she partook in her own dangerous cocktail of injections. While these substances may work for repaving a road or patching a tire, they are dangerous when injected into living tissue. She would have likely found herself in the hospital (like her alleged victim) with large, festering wounds. In addition, the two traditional techniques of buttock augmentation -- solid silicone implants and fat injections -- are unlikely to have dramatic enough results to create proportions such as hers.

As a cosmetic surgeon making an educated guess, I suspect Morris, a 30-year-old transgender woman, maximally enhanced her buttocks using polypropylene string implants obtained overseas or through the black market.

Polypropylene string implants were used to enhance breasts back in the late 1990s prior to being banned by the FDA in 2001. These implants consist of yarn-like string that gradually absorbs water and expands in size when surgically implanted into the body. If these string implants are in place long enough, they can result in a massive, cartoonish enlargement, as can be seen in the breasts of a handful of adult entertainers.

While I've never heard of polypropylene being implanted into the buttocks, it's very possible Morris underwent this procedure. The best treatment for polypropylene string implants is surgical removal.

If Morris does have polypropylene string implants and does not have them removed, she can expect her buttocks to continue to grow until they eventually drag on the ground.



Lucky pilot.

Oregon Governor Kitzhaber's Conscience


The governor announced today that he was stopping all executions in Oregon. Finally, a rational politician.

Governor Kitzhaber's full letter:

"Under Article V, section 14, of the Oregon Constitution, I am exercising my authority as Governor to issue a temporary reprieve in the case of Gary Haugen for the duration of my term in office. I want to share with Oregonians how and why I came to that decision.

"Oregon has a long and turbulent history with capital punishment. Our state constitution originally had no provision for the death penalty. Enacted by statute in 1864, the death penalty was repealed by voters in 1914, restored in 1920, outlawed again by voters in 1964, re-enacted in 1978, deemed unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court in 1981 and again reinstated in 1984.

"It has been carried out just twice in last 49 years in Oregon. Both were during my first administration as Governor, one in 1996 and the other in 1997. I allowed those sentences to be carried out despite my personal opposition to the death penalty. I was torn between my personal convictions about the morality of capital punishment and my oath to uphold the Oregon constitution.

"They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as Governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years. I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.

"Let me be clear, I had no sympathy or compassion for the criminals or for anyone who commits the most heinous of acts - taking the life of another person. The families and friends of victims deserve certainty that justice will be carried out on behalf of the loved ones who have been taken from them in such a cruel fashion.

"But the nature of their crimes was not different from other murderers, some of whom are sentenced to death but never executed and others who are sentenced to life in prison. What distinguished those two death row inmates during my first term was that they volunteered to die.

"Oregonians have a fundamental belief in fairness and justice - in swift and certain justice. The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just; and it is not swift or certain. It is not applied equally to all. It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury. The only factor that determines whether someone sentenced to death in Oregon is actually executed is that they volunteer. The hard truth is that in the 27 years since Oregonians reinstated the death penalty, it has only been carried out on two volunteers who waived their rights to appeal.

"In the years since those executions, many judges, district attorneys, legislators, death penalty proponents and opponents, and victims and their families have agreed that Oregon's system is broken.

"But we have done nothing. We have avoided the question.

"And during that time, a growing number of states have reconsidered their approach to capital punishment given public concern, evidence of wrongful convictions, the unequal application of the law, the expense of the process and other issues.

"Illinois banned it earlier this year, ending a legacy of faulty convictions, forced confessions, unreliable witnesses and incompetent legal representation. New Jersey abolished capital punishment after determining it had spent a quarter of a billion dollars on a system that executed no one. New Mexico recognized that the death penalty is neither an effective deterrent nor fair to victims' families burdened with lengthy trials and appeals and replaced it with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

"Today, in Oregon, we can no longer avoid the question. Last Friday, a death warrant was signed for another death row inmate, Gary Haugen. And again he has volunteered to die.

"He is just one of 37 inmates on death row today. Some have been there for over 20 years. They all have many years and appeals left before there is even a remote possibility of carrying out their death sentence. Two others have died of natural causes after more than a decade on death row. The reality is that Oregon's death row is an extremely expensive life prison term, likely several times more expensive that the life terms of others who happen to have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole -- rather than the death penalty.

"And while it may be convenient to blame lengthy and expensive death penalty trials and appeals on inmates 'working the system,' the truth is courts (and society) continue to reinterpret when, how and under what circumstances it is acceptable for the state to kill someone. Over time, those options are narrowing. Courts are applying stricter standards and continually raising the bar for prosecuting death penalty cases. Consider that it was only six years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself and held that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment on those under the age of 18. For a state intent on maintaining a death penalty, the inevitable result will be bigger questions, fewer options and higher costs.

"It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach. I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor.

"I do not make this decision lightly.

Erionite 800X More Carcinogenic than Asbestos



U.S. warns workers on cancer-causing mineral erionite

By Myron Levin,

Federal health officials are calling for protective measures at job sites where workers may be exposed to erionite, a cancer-causing mineral similar to asbestos that is found in rock and soil in at least a dozen western states.

An advisory published Tuesday by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended a series of steps to prevent employee exposure to eronite fibers at sites such as gravel quarries and road projects. The NIOSH alert noted that erionite was responsible for "remarkably high" rates of mesothelioma, a lethal form of cancer that devastated several Turkish villages where erionite was concentrated in rock and soil.

Erionite fibers pose an inhalation hazard similar to asbestos, but available research suggests erionite is more dangerous.

eronitelocales.jpgAs reported in October by FairWarning and, authorities have long known that erionite is widespread in the West but haven't investigated the potential risks, apparently believing there was little chance of human exposure.

As a result, amid an expansion of roads, pipelines, and power lines in remote areas, erionite remains unregulated, and federal agencies until now have failed to alert land-use officials, developers and residents so they might take precautions.

About 30 officials and scientists from federal health and environmental agencies last month held a day-long erionite workshop in North Carolina. "At a minimum, we can begin to start to educate the public and policymakers," said Dr. Aubrey Miller, a senior medical advisor at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who chaired the meeting. "I certainly don't want to count bodies later."

The steps recommended Tuesday by NIOSH, though purely voluntary, are a first attempt to address potential occupational risks.

Defending Earth from Giant Rocks


And how we differ from the dinosaurs.

In a Porker's Paradise


How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation's balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary - and that's crazy."

Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Today's Republican Party may revere Reagan as the patron saint of low taxation. But the party of Reagan - which understood that higher taxes on the rich are sometimes required to cure ruinous deficits - is dead and gone. Instead, the modern GOP has undergone a radical transformation, reorganizing itself around a grotesque proposition: that the wealthy should grow wealthier still, whatever the consequences for the rest of us.

Modern-day Republicans have become, quite simply, the Party of the One Percent - the Party of the Rich.

"The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility," says David Stockman, who served as budget director under Reagan. "They're on an anti-tax jihad - one that benefits the prosperous classes."

The staggering economic inequality that has led Americans across the country to take to the streets in protest is no accident. It has been fueled to a large extent by the GOP's all-out war on behalf of the rich. Since Republicans rededicated themselves to slashing taxes for the wealthy in 1997, the average annual income of the 400 richest Americans has more than tripled, to $345 million - while their share of the tax burden has plunged by 40 percent. Today, a billionaire in the top 400 pays less than 17 percent of his income in taxes - five percentage points less than a bus driver earning $26,000 a year. "Most Americans got none of the growth of the preceding dozen years," says Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. "All the gains went to the top percentage points."


Read more:

Comment of the Day #702


To Krugman's article in the last post...

Martin Weiss

Mexico, MO
November 21st, 2011

Gilding the lily from behind rose-colored glasses must eventually give way to brass tacks. It is cynical, not romantic, to believe that the people must pay for the excesses of banker's manipulations. The GOP stands out for insisting on increasing taxes on the poor. With trillions in their wallets, the banks are driving the economy into the ground just to prove government doesn't work.

Right-wing, fascist advocates endlessly blame "left-wing liberals" for all the out and out evils visited on us by their own party. Non, non, mon ami, this is not romanticism, it is dead serious extortion. These guys are not playing. They will take whatever they can get their hands on, and gleefully, laughing at the poor suckers who drink their kool-aid. They love it when factions of the poor blame each other and fight among themselves.

The same party which abrogated the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the criteria of judgement at Nuremberg now claim to support rights and freedom. That's not romanticism, it's bald-faced lies calculated to do damage they can profit from. Old money didn't get that way by being romantic, but by being hard-nosed and selling arms and ammo to every tinpot dictator and drug lord with do-re-mi. They're not responsible for ideals, for ecology, for women and children--whose nutrition programs they just voted to cut.

As Napoleon said,

"Money has no motherland. Financiers know no patriotism, no decency, only gain."

One more quote and I'll spare you.

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed." - --Abraham Lincoln

Perils of the Pseudo-Technocrats


In the same way that Intelligent Design is an underhanded disguise for Creationism and irrespective of the title, not in the least intelligent, but rather just a rationalization for unsubstantiated articles of faith, just as false are the supposed technocrats who push for the historically disproved use of austerity and deficit cutting as a cure for depressed economies and unemployment.

Boring Cruel Romantics

By Paul Krugman

There's a word I keep hearing lately: "technocrat." Sometimes it's used as a term of scorn -- the creators of the euro, we're told, were technocrats who failed to take human and cultural factors into account. Sometimes it's a term of praise: the newly installed prime ministers of Greece and Italy are described as technocrats who will rise above politics and do what needs to be done.

I call foul. I know from technocrats; sometimes I even play one myself. And these people -- the people who bullied Europe into adopting a common currency, the people who are bullying both Europe and the United States into austerity -- aren't technocrats. They are, instead, deeply impractical romantics.

They are, to be sure, a peculiarly boring breed of romantic, speaking in turgid prose rather than poetry. And the things they demand on behalf of their romantic visions are often cruel, involving huge sacrifices from ordinary workers and families. But the fact remains that those visions are driven by dreams about the way things should be rather than by a cool assessment of the way things really are.

And to save the world economy we must topple these dangerous romantics from their pedestals.

Let's start with the creation of the euro. If you think that this was a project driven by careful calculation of costs and benefits, you have been misinformed.

The truth is that Europe's march toward a common currency was, from the beginning, a dubious project on any objective economic analysis. The continent's economies were too disparate to function smoothly with one-size-fits-all monetary policy, too likely to experience "asymmetric shocks" in which some countries slumped while others boomed. And unlike U.S. states, European countries weren't part of a single nation with a unified budget and a labor market tied together by a common language.

So why did those "technocrats" push so hard for the euro, disregarding many warnings from economists? Partly it was the dream of European unification, which the Continent's elite found so alluring that its members waved away practical objections. And partly it was a leap of economic faith, the hope -- driven by the will to believe, despite vast evidence to the contrary -- that everything would work out as long as nations practiced the Victorian virtues of price stability and fiscal prudence.

Sad to say, things did not work out as promised. But rather than adjusting to reality, those supposed technocrats just doubled down -- insisting, for example, that Greece could avoid default through savage austerity, when anyone who actually did the math knew better.

Let me single out in particular the European Central Bank (E.C.B.), which is supposed to be the ultimate technocratic institution, and which has been especially notable for taking refuge in fantasy as things go wrong. Last year, for example, the bank affirmed its belief in the confidence fairy -- that is, the claim that budget cuts in a depressed economy will actually promote expansion, by raising business and consumer confidence. Strange to say, that hasn't happened anywhere.

And now, with Europe in crisis --

Pictures and Words

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Explain to me why this coward and pig of a man man should remain a cop and not be charged with assault for blithely pepper spraying sitting peaceful demonstrators.


Cream of Tartar


It's one of those things you grow up with, use in cooking or baking and yet have no idea what it actually is beyond a white powder in a jar or can. So what the heck is it?

Here's the answer from O Chef:

Cream of tartar is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acid salt that has a number of uses in cooking. Now, before you get all jittery about the thought of cooking with an acid, it's worth noting that lettuce, brown sugar, steak, plums, and just about every other food we eat is acidic. In fact, egg whites, baking soda, and milk are the only non-acidic (alkaline) foods we have.

creamoftartar.jpgCream of tartar is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine. (The journal Nature reported some years ago that traces of calcium tartrate found in a pottery jar in the ruins of a village in northern Iran are evidence that wine was being made more than 7,000 years ago.)

Cream of tartar is best known in our kitchens for helping stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It is the acidic ingredient in some brands of baking powder. It is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting, because it inhibits the formation of crystals. It is used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products, gelatin desserts, and photography products. Cream of tartar can also be used to clean brass and copper cookware.
If you are beating eggs whites and don't have cream of tartar, you can substitute white vinegar (in the same ratio as cream of tartar, generally 1/8 teaspoon per egg white). It is a little more problematic to find a substitute for cream of tartar in baking projects. White vinegar or lemon juice, in the ratio of 3 times the amount of cream of tartar called for, will provide the right amount of acid for most recipes. But that amount of liquid may cause other problems in the recipe, and bakers have found that cakes made with vinegar or lemon juice have a coarser grain and are more prone to shrinking than those made with cream of tartar.

Now you know.

Slow down, you move too fast


Even though a second experiment has confirmed the original observation that neutrinos had exceeded the speed of light, there's still a lot of angles to work on the subject before science is going to accept such a fundamental change to the collective perception of how the Einsteinian universe ticks. Breaking the speed of light limit is not going to go down easily in my mind either.

Scientists Report Second Sighting of Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos

By Dennis Overbye

Few scientists are betting against Einstein yet, but the phantom neutrinos of Opera are still eluding explanation.

emc2.jpgTwo months after scientists reported that they had clocked subatomic particles known as neutrinos going faster than the speed of light, to the astonishment and vocal disbelief of most of the world's physicists, the same group of scientists, known as Opera, said on Friday that it had performed a second experiment that confirmed its first results and eliminated one possible explanation for how the experiment could have gone wrong.

But the group admitted that many questions remain. "This is not the end of the story," said Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern in Switzerland, the spokesman for the collaboration, explaining that physicists would not accept the result that neutrinos could go faster than light until other experiments had come up with the same conclusion. "We are convinced, but that is not enough in science," he said.

Other physicists said they remained skeptical that the universe was about to be overturned.

The speed of light was established as the cosmic speed limit, at least for ordinary matter in ordinary space, in 1905 by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity (now known as special relativity), foreclosing the possibility of time travel into the past or of timely travel to other stars.

Neutrinos, though ghostly in many regards -- they are able to traverse planets and walls of lead like light through a window, and to shape-shift from one of three varieties of the particle to another along the way -- are part of the universe, and so there was no reason to expect that Einstein's stricture should not apply to them as well.

But over the course of the last three years, in experiments designed to investigate this shape shifting, neutrinos produced at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and beamed underground to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, an underground facility about 450 miles away, arrived about 58 billionths of a second sooner than would a light beam, according to Opera. The group is based at Gran Sasso​, which is near L'Aquila; CERN is in Geneva.

When these results were presented to a meeting at CERN in September, after a prairie fire of blog rumors, they were greeted by fierce skepticism. Among the problems with the original experiment, scientists said, was that the neutrinos were produced in bursts 10,000 billionths of a second long -- much bigger than the discrepancy in arrival time.

UPDATE: New test nixes findings about faster-than-light neutrinos

The Conspiracy Against OWS


As though we needed proof that right wing and monied interests have a fearful and loathing thing for the Occupy Wall St movement, Chris Hayes has managed to get his hands on and expose a damning lobbyist memo used as a pitch to the banks on how to best crush and undermine the OWS and prevent the coming elections of democrats who are less likely to protect the status quo.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lobbying firm's memo spells out plan to undermine Occupy Wall Street

By Jonathan Larsen and Ken Olshansky

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program "Up w/ Chris Hayes."

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC's clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC's memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct "opposition research" on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct "negative narratives" about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, "This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. ... It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye."

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA's biggest concern. "... (T)he bigger concern," the memo says, "should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies."

Two of the memo's authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker;  Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker's assistant for policy. A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly "tight" with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website. 

Jeff Sigmund, an ABA spokesperson, confirmed that the association got the memo. "Our Government Relations staff did receive the proposal - it was unsolicited and we chose not to act on it in any way," he said in a statement to "Up."

CLGC did not return calls seeking comment.

Getting to the Root of Newt's Loot


Maddow rips Newt (Ka Ching) Gingrich a new one.

I don't think there has ever been a more insincere politician or human being on public display. The man simply has no shame.

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Fly with the Jetman


Strapped to a jet-powered wing, Yves Rossy is the Jetman -- flying free, his body as the rudder, above the Swiss Alps and the Grand Canyon. After a powerful short film shows how it works, Rossy takes the TEDGlobal stage to share the experience and thrill of flying.

Republican's Have a Thing for Vouchers


A fetish really...they believe in their heart of hearts that the private market has some sort of supernatural ability to always outperform government social programs; that market competition will always result in lower costs and higher efficiency. That empirical evidence shows this to be false over and over again has no bearing on such Republican articles of faith, because like other forms of "faith", their ideological premise is held sacred and therefore beyond argument or rational debate, as Krugman demonstrates below.

Vouchers for Veterans

By Paul Krugman

American health care is remarkably diverse. In terms of how care is paid for and delivered, many of us effectively live in Canada, some live in Switzerland, some live in Britain, and some live in the unregulated market of conservative dreams. One result of this diversity is that we have plenty of home-grown evidence about what works and what doesn't.

Naturally, then, politicians -- Republicans in particular -- are determined to scrap what works and promote what doesn't. And that brings me to Mitt Romney​'s latest really bad idea, unveiled on Veterans Day: to partially privatize the Veterans Health Administration (V.H.A.).

What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.

Many people still have an image of veterans' health care based on the terrible state of the system two decades ago. Under the Clinton administration, however, the V.H.A. was overhauled, and achieved a remarkable combination of rising quality and successful cost control. Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers. Furthermore, the V.H.A. has led the way in cost-saving innovation, especially the use of electronic medical records.

What's behind this success? Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it. So it's free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense. And because V.H.A. patients are in it for the long term, the agency has a stronger incentive to invest in prevention than private insurers, many of whose customers move on after a few years.

And yes, this is "socialized medicine" -- although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente​, share many of the V.H.A.'s virtues. But it works -- and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

Yet Mr. Romney believes that giving veterans vouchers to spend on private insurance would somehow yield better results. Why?

Banks are shrugging off the (at least) 700,000 accounts they've lost the last six weeks and claim they don't want your business:

[T]he banks are going to be better off because they are getting rid of their least-profitable or not profitable clients. It helps them stem this tsunami of cash that's been flowing in that they don't know what to do with.

But not only do they relentlessly advertise for new business on billboards, TV, direct mail and other places, but they fight tooth and nail to prevent people from closing their accounts. The Daily Kos community and others have chronicled many such efforts, so follow me below the fold for ten of these awesome stories.

  1. "He has a right to speak," said the cop to the banker

    When Daily Kos community member marvinborg was distributing flyers outside of local Chase and Bank of America branches encouraging customers to move their money to credit unions, one of the managers called the police on him. When they arrived, the police promptly told the manager off:

    "He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here - please don't call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don't like free speech you should move to another country."

  2. "You can't be a customer and a protester at the same time."

    At a Bank of America branch in Santa Cruz, the manager locked two customers inside a branch as they were trying to close their accounts, and then called the police on them. Supposedly, this was because they were wearing signs. When the police showed up, they didn't arrest anyone, and were just as baffled as the customers:

  3. "They're arresting everyone?"

    At a Citibank in New York City, a customer actually was forcibly arrested when she tried to enter the bank to close her account:

  4. "Let them in!"

    At a Bank of America in St. Louis, security refused to allow customers who wanted to close their accounts inside:

  5. The bank said "You'll be back."

    Even when banks don't call the police, they can give customers sound like jilted boyfriends:

    At Wells Fargo, my sister walked up to the teller and politely asked to close her account. The teller said, "No problem." She pulled up her account and saw the balance and told her that due to the amount she had to speak with the branch manager. The branch manager came out. He was probably 30 years old and was very arrogant. He asked my sister why she wanted to close her account and my sister told him she thought Wells Fargo was part of the problem with the economy. He went thru some talking points about why she shouldn't move her money, but my sister didn't back down. When he asked her where she was going she told him that she would be banking at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union. She isn't a state employee, but anyone can join if you are related to a state employee. It turns out her husband is. Anyway, the bankster told her "You'll be back. Credit unions can't provide the services you need." We'll see about that. She withdrew over $200k from Wells Fargo. [Emphasis added]
  6. "Management is nervous"

    In the midst of begging customers not to leave, every once in a while banks can let it slip just how scared they are:

    The manager was pleasant enough and very direct. After introducing herself she flat out asked "What can we do to change your mind?" "We don't want to see you go" she emphasized. This opened a door for me to further explain my decision to leave the bank and why I was doing it. Amazingly, it did not fall on deaf ears. She indicated that understood where I was coming from and actually showed genuine surprise at some of the facts I provided her about the less than consumer friendly policies and machinations of her employer. She did make some feeble counter-arguments and repeatedly asked me if I would change my mind (with a hint of desperation!). I stood firm and by the end of our conversation she asked if I would be willing to put it all in writing so she could send it up the chain.

    She shared that management is nervous, they are seeing money leaking out of the bank and realize that they have made mistakes.  She even hinted that there has been high-level discussion on reversing the new fess since there has been so much consumer push-back. [Emphasis added]

    The fees were reversed soon after this was posted.

  7. They're offering cash for customers to open up accounts

    It's silly to argue that they don't want cash deposits, yet they're offering cold, hard cash for those who will, well, deposit cash.

    There's a lot of fine print involved, but basically, they will pay me $200 to move my checking account to them provided that:

    1)    I make one bill payment through the account each month
    2)    The account has a balance of $10,000 as of 1/20/2012
    3)    I wait 'till April for the $200 (giving me about 4% interest on my $10k)
    4)    I don't close my credit card account

    5)    I don't violate of any of their nit-picky procedures in the fine print

    6)    They don't decide to simply screw me and not pay up: "Bank of America may change or terminate this offer before this date without notice..."

    Well! I had been told that banks didn't need deposits. I guess that's not true, otherwise why would they be running (cough, cough) to sign me up - and offering cold hard cash as well?

  8. They're pretending it's no big deal

    You know there's something happening when they're circulating talking points.

    In a truly random set of circumstances I found myself stopping by three separate Wells Fargo locations yesterday [...]

    [Branch 1:] While we were making small talk, I casually asked, "So, how many people closed out accounts this weekend?"  

    The cashier said, "Oh it was just two or three people.  Not many at all." [...]

    [Wells Fargo embedded in Whole Foods:] While chatting it up, I asked, "So, how many people closed out their accounts here on Saturday? "  

    The Teller said, "Just two or three people closed their accounts.  Only two said it was because of Bank Transfer Day." [...]

    [Branch 2:] I was talking to Mr. Branch Manager2 while I was getting the passport, I casually said, "So, how many people closed their accounts on Saturday?"

    Mr. Branch Manager2 said, "Oh, it was just 2 or 3 people.  They had very small amounts of money with us." [...]

    Was there a corporate wide memo with talking points?  I don't have any proof but it does make me wonder how only "...2 or 3 people" closed their accounts at three different Wells Fargo...

  9. They'll fight tooth and nail for empty accounts

    It doesn't even matter if a checking account is in use. They'll do everything possible to keep people from closing them.

    I didn't even know he was talking with BoA, but when he had repeated the entire chain of circumstances for the fourth or fifth time, to the same person, getting louder each time, I knew something was definitely screwy. I mean, this is an account that had never held any actual balance. Had never had any checks written. For years. And never would.

    Why the hell would a bank want to keep it open?

    Eventually my schedule caught up with me and I had to leave, with Ed still bellowing the same story into the phone over and over. I was able to come back an hour or so later, after he was finally off the phone, and asked if that happened to be BoA.

    Well, yes, of course it was.

  10. Offering to refund obnoxious fees ... after the fact.

    They wouldn't be in this mess if they didn't try to bleed people in the first place.

    "Is everything OK with your account and service?"

    Well, yes, except for the fact that I'm charged ten dollars a month for the privilege of having a checking account here. (We used to have free checking, but Chase implemented the fee about a year ago if our balance went below $1500.  Man, we were lazy and complacent, but not today!)

    "Let me see, yes, it seems you paid a fee... 3 times?  So only $30."

    Yes, only $30... but it's the principle.  It's the greed that is annoying.

    "Well, you've been with us for many years, here is what I can do.  I can temporarily... uh, permanently waive any future fees.  We really value our relationship with you and want to keep you as a customer."

    It seems like if Chase had called me before I came down here to close my account and made that offer that it would seem genuine, but not only after I'm already here to close my account.  Which I would like to do.

    "Well, we could also refund those fees.  We would really like to retain your business."

    I'm going to be opening up an account with a local credit union.

And how do the banks respond? By lashing out angrily at its customers.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says the public needs to start thinking before they criticize his company.

People have given it plenty of thought. That's why hundreds of thousands are moving their money when really, doing so is a pain in the ass--you've got to deal with uncleared checks, automatic bill pays and recurring payments, direct deposits and old habits (whether it's navigating your banks online site, or knowing where the branches and ATMs are located).

Wall Street is out at least $60 billion and counting, and we can inflict more pain. Let's truly make Brian Moynihan and his CEO buddies squeal. Please share this post with your friends, and if you have not already done so, Move Your Money.

How Insane Is It?


Watch him rock in his seat.

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Proof Pudding


How misguided is the anti-immigration polcy recently enacted in Alabama?

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Why Americans won't do dirty jobs

By Elizabeth Dwoskin

Crackdown on immigrants leaves business owners struggling with shortages

Skinning, gutting, and cutting up catfish is not easy or pleasant work. No one knows this better than Randy Rhodes​, president of Harvest Select, which has a processing plant in impoverished Uniontown, Ala. For years, Rhodes has had trouble finding Americans willing to grab a knife and stand 10 or more hours a day in a cold, wet room for minimum wage and skimpy benefits.

Most of his employees are Guatemalan. Or they were, until Alabama enacted an immigration law in September that requires police to question people they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally and punish businesses that hire them. The law, known as HB56, is intended to scare off undocumented workers, and in that regard it's been a success. It's also driven away legal immigrants who feared being harassed.

Rhodes arrived at work on Sept. 29, the day the law went into effect, to discover many of his employees missing. Panicked, he drove an hour and a half north to Tuscaloosa, where many of the immigrants who worked for him lived. Rhodes, who doesn't speak Spanish, struggled to get across how much he needed them. He urged his workers to come back. Only a handful did. "We couldn't explain to them that some of the things they were scared of weren't going to happen," Rhodes says. "I wanted them to see that I was their friend, and that we were trying to do the right thing."

His ex-employees joined an exodus of thousands of immigrant field hands, hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, chicken plant employees, and construction workers who have fled Alabama for other states. Like Rhodes, many employers who lost workers followed federal requirements--some even used the E-Verify system--and only found out their workers were illegal when they disappeared.

In their wake are thousands of vacant positions and hundreds of angry business owners staring at unpicked tomatoes, uncleaned fish, and unmade beds. "Somebody has to figure this out. The immigrants aren't coming back to Alabama--they're gone," Rhodes says. "I have 158 jobs, and I need to give them to somebody."

There's no shortage of people he could give those jobs to. In Alabama, some 211,000 people are out of work. In rural Perry County, where Harvest Select is located, the unemployment rate is 18.2 percent, twice the national average. One of the big selling points of the immigration law was that it would free up jobs that Republican Governor Robert Bentley said immigrants had stolen from recession-battered Americans. Yet native Alabamians have not come running to fill these newly liberated positions. Many employers think the law is ludicrous and fought to stop it. Immigrants aren't stealing anything from anyone, they say. Businesses turned to foreign labor only because they couldn't find enough Americans to take the work they were offering.

At a moment when the country is relentless focused on unemployment, there are still jobs that often go unfilled. These are difficult, dirty, exhausting jobs that, for previous generations, were the first rickety step on the ladder to prosperity. They still are--just not for Americans.

For decades many of Alabama's industries have benefited from a compliant foreign workforce and a state government that largely looked the other way on wages, working conditions, and immigration status. With so many foreign workers now effectively banished from the work pool and jobs sitting empty, businesses must contend with American workers who have higher expectations for themselves and their employers--even in a terrible economy where work is hard to find. "I don't consider this a labor shortage," says Tom Surtees, Alabama's director of industrial relations, himself the possessor of a job few would want: calming business owners who have seen their employees vanish. "We're transitioning from a business model. Whether an employer in agriculture used migrant workers, or whether it's another industry that used illegal immigrants, they had a business model and that business model is going to have to change."

On a sunny October afternoon, Juan Castro leans over the back of a pickup truck parked in the middle of a field at Ellen Jenkins's farm in northern Alabama. He sorts tomatoes rapidly into buckets by color and ripeness. Behind him his crew--his father, his cousin, and some friends--move expertly through the rows of plants that stretch out for acres in all directions, barely looking up as they pull the last tomatoes of the season off the tangled vines and place them in baskets. Since heading into the fields at 7 a.m., they haven't stopped for more than the few seconds it takes to swig some water. They'll work until 6 p.m., earning $2 for each 25-pound basket they fill. The men figure they'll take home around $60 apiece.

Euro Failings Not Due to Socialism


and austerity programs are a complete ruse as a financial corrective.

Legends of the Fail

By Paul Krugman

This is the way the euro ends -- not with a bang but with bunga bunga. Not long ago, European leaders were insisting that Greece could and should stay on the euro while paying its debts in full. Now, with Italy falling off a cliff, it's hard to see how the euro can survive at all.

But what's the meaning of the eurodebacle? As always happens when disaster strikes, there's a rush by ideologues to claim that the disaster vindicates their views. So it's time to start debunking.

First things first: The attempt to create a common European currency was one of those ideas that cut across the usual ideological lines. It was cheered on by American right-wingers, who saw it as the next best thing to a revived gold standard, and by Britain's left, which saw it as a big step toward a social-democratic Europe. But it was opposed by British conservatives, who also saw it as a step toward a social-democratic Europe. And it was questioned by American liberals, who worried -- rightly, I'd say (but then I would, wouldn't I?) -- about what would happen if countries couldn't use monetary and fiscal policy to fight recessions.

So now that the euro project is on the rocks, what lessons should we draw?

I've been hearing two claims, both false: that Europe's woes reflect the failure of welfare states in general, and that Europe's crisis makes the case for immediate fiscal austerity in the United States.

The assertion that Europe's crisis proves that the welfare state doesn't work comes from many Republicans. For example, Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of taking his inspiration from European "socialist democrats" and asserted that "Europe isn't working in Europe." The idea, presumably, is that the crisis countries are in trouble because they're groaning under the burden of high government spending. But the facts say otherwise.

It's true that all European countries have more generous social benefits -- including universal health care -- and higher government spending than America does. But the nations now in crisis don't have bigger welfare states than the nations doing well -- if anything, the correlation runs the other way. Sweden, with its famously high benefits, is a star performer, one of the few countries whose G.D.P. is now higher than it was before the crisis. Meanwhile, before the crisis, "social expenditure" -- spending on welfare-state programs -- was lower, as a percentage of national income, in all of the nations now in trouble than in Germany, let alone Sweden.

Oh, and Canada, which has universal health care and much more generous aid to the poor than the United States, has weathered the crisis better than we have.

The euro crisis, then, says nothing about the sustainability of the welfare state. But does it make the case for belt-tightening in a depressed economy?

You hear that claim all the time. America, we're told, had better slash spending right away or we'll end up like Greece or Italy. Again, however, the facts tell a different story.

First, if you look around the world you see that the big determining factor for interest rates isn't the level of government debt but whether a government borrows in its own currency. Japan is much more deeply in debt than Italy, but the interest rate on long-term Japanese bonds is only about 1 percent to Italy's 7 percent. Britain's fiscal prospects look worse than Spain's, but Britain can borrow at just a bit over 2 percent, while Spain is paying almost 6 percent.

What has happened, it turns out, is that by going on the euro, Spain and Italy in effect reduced themselves to the status of third-world countries that have to borrow in someone else's currency, with all the loss of flexibility that implies. In particular, since euro-area countries can't print money even in an emergency, they're subject to funding disruptions in a way that nations that kept their own currencies aren't -- and the result is what you see right now. America, which borrows in dollars, doesn't have that problem.

The other thing you need to know is that in the face of the current crisis, austerity has been a failure everywhere it has been tried: no country with significant debts has managed to slash its way back into the good graces of the financial markets. For example, Ireland is the good boy of Europe, having responded to its debt problems with savage austerity that has driven its unemployment rate to 14 percent. Yet the interest rate on Irish bonds is still above 8 percent -- worse than Italy.

The moral of the story, then, is to beware of ideologues who are trying to hijack the European crisis on behalf of their agendas. If we listen to those ideologues, all we'll end up doing is making our own problems -- which are different from Europe's, but arguably just as severe -- even worse.

When a Racist Bitch Slips Some Truth


When Ann Coulter tells the truth

The notorious political commentator's latest gaffe reveals a more gruesome, deep truth about conservatism.

Corey Robin

Everyone's going after Ann Coulter - and rightly so - for her racist comments on the "Hannity" show. Asked why liberals and Democrats are up in arms over the sexual harassment allegations that have been levelled against GOP candidate Herman Cain, Coulter said:

"Our blacks are so much better than their blacks. To become a black Republican, you don't just roll into it. You're not going with the flow..."

That "our blacks" is especially gruesome. Sounds like the proprietary claim a fancy housewife would make, ca. 1960 (or 1860), about her black maid: "my girl" or something like that.

But if you can suspend disbelief - or disgust - for a minute, there's something in what Coulter is saying that's worth paying attention to, for it unwittingly reveals a deep truth about conservatism. Not its racism, but something else.

As I argue in The Reactionary Mind, conservatism has often attracted outsiders: Edmund Burke was not from Anglican and aristocratic England but from bourgeois and Catholic Ireland; Joseph de Maistre was not from France but Savoy; Alexander Hamilton was from the West Indies, the illegitimate son of a rumored biracial union. Benjamin Disraeli was a Jew, as was Irving Kristol. And on and on, from Leo Strauss to Phyllis Schlafly to Antonin Scalia.

Why has conservatism always relied upon the kindness of strangers? One reason is that the newcomer brings a particular angle of vision - how the privileged look from the bottom or the outside - that the privileged are incapable of getting on their own. The outsider helps the elite see not only how they look but how they might look if they change their ways. And that, as Tancredi reminds us in The Leopard - "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change" - is what conservatism is all about: changing everything so things, hierarchy in particular, can stay as they are.

But another, arguably more important, reason is that the outsider brings a scrappiness and moxie, an appetite for power and appreciation of privilege, that the inherited simply lack. As Burke himself was all too aware, when he unleashed a rage almost Jacobin in its substance and tone upon the Duke of Bedford, who had attacked Burke as a dishonourable and unscrupulous striver.

I was not, like his grace of Bedford, swaddled, and rocked, and dandled into a legislator; "Nitor in adversum" is the motto for a man like me. I possessed not one of the qualities, no cultivated one of the arts, that recommend men to the favour and protection of the great. I was not made for a minion or a tool... At every step of my progress in life (for in every step was I traversed and opposed), and at every turnpike I met, I was obliged to shew my passport, and again and again to prove my sole title to the honour of being useful to my country, by a proof that I was not wholly unacquainted with its laws, and the whole system of its interests both abroad and at home. Otherwise, no rank, no toleration even, for me. I had no arts, but manly arts. On them I have stood...

Beyond the wounded sense of honour, Edmund Burke is laying out a matrix of the conservative claim to rule: the true man of power is not "swaddled" and "dandled" into his position; possessing only the "manly arts", he wrests his position and assumes his place solely by the force of his wit and will. Such a man will, inevitably, not be to the manor born; he will spring from society's lower orders. In such men (and sometimes women), conservatism has always rested its hopes.

You might think, to the conservative mind, that Barack Obama would be just such a man. He came from inauspicious beginnings, and by virtue of being the first black man to win the presidency, he's certainly proven his mettle. But Barack Obama rose to his position the old-fashioned way. He worked hard, studied hard, and made sure to dot his i's and cross his t's as he made his way through the antiseptic halls of the American meritocracy (Columbia, Harvard, and beyond).

The conservative vision of ascent is rougher around the edges. The outsider who becomes a right-wing insider must not sail to power on his SAT's; he must claw his way to power like Tony Soprano. He has to show that he understands the darkness of the American Dream, that you have to fight - and fight dirty - for your position.

That's why Coulter formulates the virtues of Cain as she does: unlike black liberals or Democrats, the black conservative doesn't roll into his opinions; he fights his way into them. He doesn't go with the flow; he stands in the crashing surf, forcing the waves to break. That is his claim to power, his entitlement to rule.

It's also why the New Canaan-born Coulter would look to Cain for a glimpse of the Republican promised land - however much her racist rhetoric betrays the fact that she's still in Egypt.

The Euro Connection to US Market Losses


Another great Ratigan rant:

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Universal Template for Fixing Stuff


hat tip mr baker


Even Better Wins for the Sane Crowd


The cheering is not about the's about defeating the two most fascist and undemocratic bills put forth by any groups in a long while....1) the banning of of collective bargaining rights and 2) the attempt to replace women's reproductive rights with a state endorsed belief system. Also being cheered is the partial victory over a coordinated GOP attempt to repress the most basic of American rights, the right to vote.

Mississippi Voters Reject Personhood at Conception Bill

Voters turned a skeptical eye toward Republican-backed measures across the country Tuesday, rejecting an anti-labor law in Ohio, an anti-abortion measure in Mississippi and a crackdown on voting rights in Maine.

Even in Arizona, voters were threatening to turn out of office the chief architect of that state's controversial anti-immigration law.

Taken together, Tuesday's results could breathe new life into President Obama's hopes for his re-election a year from now. But the day was not a wholesale victory for Democrats.

Even as voters in Ohio delivered a blow to Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, and rejected his attempt to weaken collective bargaining for public employees, they also approved a symbolic measure to exempt Ohio residents from the individual mandate required in Mr. Obama's health care law. And in Mississippi, the same voters who rejected an attempt to define conception as the beginning of human life approved a plan, opposed by Democrats, to require prospective voters to produce proper identification.

Those were among myriad contests across the country, including four governors' races, that were keenly watched for clues to voter sentiment a year ahead of the presidential election.

Even though it was an off-year election, with very few major races involved, the turnout was unusually high in Ohio and Mississippi.

"It's surprised us that it's this heavy," said Danny Glaskox, the chairman of the election commission for Jackson County, Miss., where Pascagoula is the county seat. "We suspect these initiatives have really brought people out."

To the Stingy Ass Conservative 1%


Here's your answer from the public. Screw you.

Ohio voters reject curb on labor unions

Tom Curry

In a rebuff to Republican Gov. John Kasich, Ohio voters have decided to reject curbs on public employees.

The Associated Press projected that voters would reject S.B. 5, the law enacted last spring by Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature that limited the ability of public employee unions to collectively bargain.

With nearly a third percent of precincts reporting, more than 60 percent of voters were rejecting the law.

The law also would have required performance-based pay for most public employees, limited the accrual of vacation time, and required public employees to pay 15 percent of the cost of their health care benefits. While the health care cost sharing was popular in polling, the curb on collective bargaining by public-sector workers was not.

"The repeal of SB5 is a monumental victory for working families not only in Ohio , but all across the country," said Michael Sargeant, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The victory for organized labor is an encouraging sign for Democrats as they prepare to battle for Ohio's 18 electoral votes in the 2012 presidential election. President Obama carried Ohio with 51 percent of the vote in 2008.

A New ChristmasTradition


Thank goodness there's no Chinese wine...

Following is a good idea. Keep our dollars here, helping Americans. Be a practical Santa.

As Americans, we need to support our own economy, and not be held hostage by cheap labor to produce foreign-made products that are crippling the jobs of workers in the United States.

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Oh.... Yes there is!

It is time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese-made flat-screen TV? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US (We the People), encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition!!

Moore's Law & Solar


Here Comes the Sun

By Paul Krugman

For decades the story of technology has been dominated, in the popular mind and to a large extent in reality, by computing and the things you can do with it. Moore's Law -- in which the price of computing power falls roughly 50 percent every 18 months -- has powered an ever-expanding range of applications, from faxes to Facebook.

Our mastery of the material world, on the other hand, has advanced much more slowly. The sources of energy, the way we move stuff around, are much the same as they were a generation ago.

But that may be about to change. We are, or at least we should be, on the cusp of an energy transformation, driven by the rapidly falling cost of solar power. That's right, solar power.

If that surprises you, if you still think of solar power as some kind of hippie fantasy, blame our fossilized political system, in which fossil fuel producers have both powerful political allies and a powerful propaganda machine that denigrates alternatives.

Speaking of propaganda: Before I get to solar, let's talk briefly about hydraulic fracturing, a k a fracking.

Fracking -- injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels -- is an impressive technology. But it's also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

Economics 101 tells us that an industry imposing large costs on third parties should be required to "internalize" those costs -- that is, to pay for the damage it inflicts, treating that damage as a cost of production. Fracking might still be worth doing given those costs. But no industry should be held harmless from its impacts on the environment and the nation's infrastructure.

Yet what the industry and its defenders demand is, of course, precisely that it be let off the hook for the damage it causes. Why? Because we need that energy! For example, the industry-backed organization declares that "there are only two sides in the debate: those who want our oil and natural resources developed in a safe and responsible way; and those who don't want our oil and natural gas resources developed at all."

So it's worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government "pick winners," yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner.

And now for something completely different: the success story you haven't heard about.

These days, mention solar power and you'll probably hear cries of "Solyndra!" Republicans have tried to make the failed solar panel company both a symbol of government waste -- although claims of a major scandal are nonsense -- and a stick with which to beat renewable energy.

But Solyndra's failure was actually caused by technological success: the price of solar panels is dropping fast, and Solyndra couldn't keep up with the competition. In fact, progress in solar panels has been so dramatic and sustained that, as a blog post at Scientific American put it, "there's now frequent talk of a 'Moore's law' in solar energy," with prices adjusted for inflation falling around 7 percent a year.

This has already led to rapid growth in solar installations, but even more change may be just around the corner. If the downward trend continues -- and if anything it seems to be accelerating -- we're just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

And if we priced coal-fired power right, taking into account the huge health and other costs it imposes, it's likely that we would already have passed that tipping point.

But will our political system delay the energy transformation now within reach?

Let's face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers' money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.

So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true; solar is now cost-effective. Here comes the sun, if we're willing to let it in.

Ready for the B-Movie


Actually sad, but still....

Man Found Dead in Room With 60,000 Bees

MIAMI | A man was found dead inside a Miami home swarmed with thousands of bees, but a cause of death has not yet been released.

Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Ignatius Carroll told CBS 4 ( ) the unidentified man was standing on a chair Saturday when he fell. He had been trying to remove the bees from a bedroom.

The man's daughter found the body but was unable to get to her father because of the bees. Even fire rescue crews were concerned. A bee removal specialist was called in, but the man was already dead by the time rescue crews were able to get inside the room. It's estimated that nearly 60,000 bees were in the room at the time.

8 Hugs a Day


Trust, morality -- and oxytocin

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The "60 Minutes" commentator known to generations for his wry, humorous and contentious television essays - a unique genre he is credited with inventing - died today. He was 92 and had homes in New York City, Rensseleaerville, N.Y. and Rowayton, Conn.

Rooney had announced on Oct. 2, 2011 in his 1097th essay for "60 Minutes" that he would no longer appear regularly.

Rooney wrote for television since its birth, spending more than 60 years at CBS, 30 of them behind the camera as a writer and producer, first for entertainment and then news programming, before becoming a television personality - a role he said he was never comfortable in. He preferred to be known as a writer and was the author of best-selling books and a national newspaper column, in addition to his "60 Minutes" essays.

But it is his television role as the inquisitive and cranky commentator on "60 Minutes" that made him a cultural icon. For over 30 years, Rooney had the last word on the most watched television program in history. Ratings for the broadcast rose steadily over its time period, peeking at a few minutes before the end of the hour, precisely when he delivered his essays - which could generate thousands of response letters.

Each Sunday, Rooney delivered one of his "60 Minutes" essays from behind a desk that he, an expert woodworker, hewed himself. The topics ranged from the contents of that desk's drawer to whether God existed. He often weighed in on major news topics. In an early "60 Minutes" essay that won him the third of his four Emmy Awards, his compromise to the grain embargo against the Soviet Union was to sell them cereal. "Are they going to take us seriously as an enemy if they think we eat Cap'n Crunch for breakfast?" deadpanned Rooney.

Mainly, his essays struck a cord in viewers by pointing out life's unspoken truths or more often complaining about its subtle lies, earning him the "curmudgeon" status he wore like a uniform. "I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought," Rooney told the Associated Press​ in 1998. In typical themes, Rooney questioned labels on packages, products that didn't seem to work and why people didn't talk in elevators.

Rooney asked thousands of questions in his essays over the years, none, however, began with "Did you ever...?" a phrase often associated with him. Comedian Joe Piscopo used it in a 1981 impersonation of him on "Saturday Night Live​" and, from then on, it was erroneously linked to Rooney.

Rooney was also mistakenly connected to racism when a politically charged essay highly insensitive to minorities was written in his style and passed off as his on the internet in 2003.

Over the next few years, it found its way into the e-mail boxes of untold thousands, causing Rooney to refute it in a 2005 "60 Minutes" essay, and again, as it continued to proliferate, in a Associated Press article a year later.

Many assumed he wrote the screed because Rooney's longtime habit of writing or speaking plainly on sensitive topics had left him open to attacks in the past by activist groups. The racist essay was one of the many false Rooney quotes and essays bouncing around the Internet. The racism charge angered and hurt Rooney deeply, especially because as a young soldier in the early 1940s, he got himself arrested in Florida for refusing to leave the seat he had chosen among blacks in the back of an Army bus.

At the height of the AIDS crisis, Rooney had his biggest run-in with a group and it had dire consequences. In February 1990, the gay magazine The Advocate interviewed him after he associated the human choices of drugs, tobacco and gay sex with death in a CBS News special, "A Year With Andy Rooney: 1989." The magazine printed racist remarks attributed to him from the interview, which he vehemently denied making. A torrent of negative publicity followed, after which then-CBS News President David Burke suspended him for three months. The outcry for his return was deafening. Burke reinstated him after only three weeks, saying Rooney was not a man "who holds prejudice in his heart and mind." The ratings for "60 Minutes," CBS' only top-10 hit that season, dropped while Rooney was off the air.

But the negative publicity and suspension exacted a toll. Rooney said publicly he was "chilled" and admitted the new sensitivity led him to spike a later essay regarding the United Negro College Fund.

The Artist Formerly Known as Cain


Maddow figures out what Cain's run for office is really amounts to...performance art.

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Force the Rich to Live Large


giant.toilet.jpgI am not quite sure how to convey the message to extremely rich people that they have to give back more to the society in creating more jobs as well as spend more money to educate less educated people so they can serve them better. How much a person needs, his/her needs for food, shelter or any natural insticts cannot grow proportional to his/her ability to earn. Thank God else majority of population would have become extinct by now. Only way to disuade these people from being greedy is force them to consume say food 10 times than average human need or marry 10 wives or live in a house that has 100 bedrooms and 10 kitchens and sit on a potty that is 10 meter by 10 meter wide and sleep on a bed that is as large as 10 meter by 10 meter with a plush bed that is 10 meter deep and eat with a golden spoon that weighs 10 kilos and sit on a chair that is 10 meter tall and 5 meter by 5 meter wide. Do not give them any publicity. do not invite them for any public function. I understand creativity should be rewarded but how much! To make lives of 90% of people miserable. No body says do not earn a lot, but at least put it back into society. Not every venture of them is going to return profit as high as 10% some will win some will loose but at least it would give chance to lower 90% to have jobs to sustain.

My english is poor but this writing can convey the message just like wrongly spelt word can mean the same thing as correctly spelt word in 90 % of the cases at least a literate person can make out what a writer meant to write by context. You do not need to be literary expert to convey your heart felt meaning.
Bye for Now. This Greed is destroying us. You can wield a power by colossal amount of making money but you cannot bring happiness except your own happiness living in a security bubble surrounded by 10 meter high electric fences protected by 100 body guards.

Kishor Kelkar

Sydney Australia

Necessitous Men


An old English judge once said: "Necessitous men are not free men." Liberty requires opportunity to make a living--a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor--other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

Franklin D Roosevelt, June 27, 1936

How Broken Is It?


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Occupy Writers. Com

| | Comments (1)

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

by Lemony Snicket

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn't mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. "Fortune" is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child--rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn't matter are like people who say cake doesn't matter--it's probably because they've already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they've been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don't tell them they aren't. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don't ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else--a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you're the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

40 year Old Nuke Plants Problems


This is a major problem.

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Back Atcha Romney


A pro-Obama super PAC is keeping their eyes on the prize. Priorities USA, a group run by former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, released a new video solely devoted to attacking to the most likely Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Willard M. Romney. They aren't wasting their time with the GOP "one night stands," as Megan McCain so perfectly described the rotating cast of conservative candidates in 2012.

In "Mitt Romney's America," the ad threw Romney's own words back in his face -- "corporations are people," "don't try and stop the foreclosure process -- let it hit the bottom," and, one line surely haunt him throughout the campaign, "there are a lot of reasons not to elect me." It didn't directly mention Romney's numerous flip-flops. Instead, the ad painted him as an icy businessman out to destroy the middle class.

Today's Comment


Every once and a while you find a great comment out there in the wild. Here's today's:


Poor Tea Baggers. Jumping from one messiah to the next, after Queen Sarah took all your hopes (and a few million dollars worth of donations), then decided to stick to her lucrative "concert tour" career and avoid any chance of taking a real job, with real responsibilities . You know, like Governor of Alaska , or VP/President of the USA.

Then Michelle Bachmann comes along, Palin V.2 , and gets your Depends all moist , but when she opened her mouth and nothing but stupidity came out , you all jumped that bandwagon and started crowing about.....(drumroll) Rick Perry !

Everybody in Tea Bag land is drinking an extra Ensure , then trying to get their golf cart to do a burn out that spells "R I C K" , until HE opens his mouth and lets his stupid out , (see a pattern here?) and it becomes clear to even the staunchest TeaBagger that America isn't ready for another blithering idiot Texas Governor in the White House, just yet. Another sure-bet, super-messiah fails to lead y'all out of the promised land...those donations you sent his way would have been put to much better use on the Early-Bird Senior Menu at Denny's , and probably result in a much bigger and more reliable "movement" , grass roots or otherwise.

But hold on to your Metamucil , here comes Herman Cain ! The next installment in the twisted comedy that is the GOP field in 2012 . He is basically running on the premise that he is not Mitt Romney . His crackpot ideas about tax reform and economic recovery resemble the sophomoric meanderings of, well....a high school sophomore. This explains why he is has gained some traction with the Tea Party types.

As sure as your walking shoes are fastened with Velcro, Mitt Romney will be the GOP's offering in 2012 . The Tea Party dollars and votes will have to be drawn in by whomever ends up on the VP ticket with Mr. Vanilla . Sound familiar ? Oh, yeah....because that's what they did in 2008 , with Sarah Palin.

I think Cain has a good shot at being chosen to run as Romney's VP , because a woman or minority on the ticket is worth more than a couple of independent votes , when the showdown with Obama comes. Throw in some Tea Party quackishness to rope in the crackpots (which is about 40% of the current GOP base) , and Cain looks like even more of a shoe-in at VP.

Any chance Romney has of beating Obama is stomped out by all the Ron Paul write-ins, and Barry wins his second term without breaking a can bet your Buick Century on it .

Cain's Bigger Problem


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The Old Terrorists


Good ol' boys last fling? Literally a dying breed. Clint Eastwood movie? Maybe.

4 Georgia Men Arrested in Terror Plot

By Scott Shane

Four Georgia men who were part of a fringe militia group were arrested on Tuesday in what the Justice Department described as a plot to use guns, bombs and the toxin ricin to kill federal and state officials and spread terror.

The men, all aged 65 and over, were recorded telling an F.B.I. informant that they wanted to kill federal judges, Internal Revenue Service employees and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to court documents.

"There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that's highly, highly illegal: murder," one of those charged, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., was recorded telling the informant.

"When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people have got to die," he said.

Another of the men, Samuel J. Crump, 68, of Toccoa, Ga., is accused of saying he wanted to make 10 pounds of ricin and disperse it in Atlanta and other cities, as well as loosing it from a car traveling on Interstate highways. Ricin, made from the castor bean, is a potent toxin, though it is not generally believed to be effective for killing large numbers of people.

The others arrested were Dan Roberts, 67, and Ray H. Adams, 65, both of Toccoa, the Justice Department said.

The United States attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Sally Quillian Yates, said, "While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security."

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