Thursday, June 08, 2006

Iraq, Katrina, Military Data Theft, Iran, and Gay Bashing: Government Out Of Control

The United States is careening wildly down the road to ruin while U.S. leadership refuses to hold anyone accountable for any major mistakes. Furthermore, U.S. citizens show absolutely no concern for this miserable state-of-affairs. Everyone just ignores all the inept leaders and all the consequences of their actions. These same leaders now expect people to vote for them in the elections this fall. "More Of The Same!, More Of The Same!" appears to be their rallying cry.

Our elected leaders began the downhill slide when they lied to get authorization for a new war in the Middle East. That action alone should have resulted in more than a few dismissals on grounds of incompetence. Instead, our leaders go one step beyond by authorizing the use of torture and kidnapping. They have the audacity to call these actions an effort to "Win Hearts and Minds." They only get disturbed and try to cover it all up when the secrets of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret Eastern European jails leak out.

Nobody in-charge is ever held accountable. There are no resignations.

A hurricane destroyed a major U.S. city and government leaders took a few weeks to figure it out. Their response consisted of giving major contracts to political cronies. These inept contractors then proceeded to waste a few billion tax dollars on poorly sub-contracted projects. After the US Civil War these same theives were once called "carpetbaggers." New Orleans still remains mostly in ruins, just like Fallujah in 2003 or Atlanta in 1866.

Nobody gets fired, just one person gets reassigned.

More recently the Veterans Administration suddenly discover that the personal data of all members of the military has been moving around on a worker's laptop. The laptop with the data gets stolen. This theft leaks out a month later. Now all that military data is probably in the hands of Internet hackers, if not a major foreign government. What fantastic news to tell the weary troops returning from duty in Iraq. "Welcome home soldiers, your identities have been stolen."

So far no leading public figure has been dismissed over these serious mistakes.

As if they did not have enough to concern themselves with, our leaders suddenly decide to instigate a new war in the Middle East. Iran is the new target this year. As if some brilliant bureaucrat decided to cover-up the Iraqi Civil War by starting an Iranian Civil War. What enlightened minds dreamed up this gunboat diplomacy? Oh, let us not forget U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons in order to stop Iran from building nuclear reactors. Great strategic moves like that are could wipe all life from the face of the earth. (Note: LINK to Iran Nuclear Talk)

Nobody is called to account for these horrendous foreign policy moves.

Now, with all these mistakes piled up behind them, our wonderful role models in Washington decide to start attacking gay men and women. Inciting hatred and division among their own citizens, how crazy can a government get? What a wise humanitarian move from of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Maybe Washington is doing all these crazy things to convince immigrants that it would be wiser to simply stay home and starve to death.

There seems to be no limit to the sheer stupidity demonstrated by the elected leaders of the United States. Of course the citizens of the United States are too busy watching inane television programming to know anything about what is take place in Washington. The mindset of most people seems to be to ignore the politicians, and the facts. After all, these actions can only get us into another war, destroyed by more storms, even more identities stolen, and everyone burned alive in a nuclear holocaust. These same leaders are now asking for us to vote them in for another term of office.

Why worry about such trivial consequences when there is another episode of Desperate Housewives to watch? However, if you do want to learn more about U.S. torture practices here is a good place to start: Torture Awareness Month

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Extraordinary Rendition or The Disappeared

The following is a brief excerpt from the report on Extraordinary Rendition prepared by Swiss Senator Dick Marty. The entire report can be found at this link

Marty report

(NOTE: The numbers 84-87 refer to sections indicated in the report. The numbers beginning with 62 refer to footnotes found at the end of the report.)

84. The “security check” used by the CIA to prepare a detainee for transport on a rendition plane was described to us by one source in the American intelligence community as a “twenty-minute takeout”62. His explanation was that within a very short space of time, a detainee is transformed into a state of almost total immobility and sensory deprivation. “The CIA can do three of these guys in an hour. In twenty minutes they’re good to go.”63 An investigating officer for the Swedish Ombudsman was struck by the “fast and efficient procedure” used by the American agents64, while the Swedish interpreter who witnessed the CIA operation at Bromma Airport said simply: “it surprised me how the heck they could have dressed him so fast”65.

85. The general characteristics of this “security check” can be established from a host of testimonies as follows66:

i. it generally takes place in a small room (a locker room, a police reception area) at the airport, or at a transit facility nearby.

ii. the man is sometimes already blindfolded when the operation begins, or will be blindfolded quickly and remain so throughout most of the operation.

iii. four to six CIA agents perform the operation in a highly-disciplined, consistent fashion – they are dressed in black (either civilian clothes or special 'uniforms'), wearing black gloves, with their full faces covered. Testimonies speak, variously, of “big people in black balaclavas”67, people “dressed in black like ninjas”68, or people wearing “ordinary clothes, but hooded”69.

iv. the CIA agents “don’t utter a word when they communicate with one another”70, using only hand signals or simply knowing their roles implicitly.

v. some men speak of being punched or shoved by the agents at the beginning of the operation in a rough or brutal fashion71; others talked about being gripped firmly from several sides

vi. the man’s hands and feet are shackled.

vii. the man has all his clothes (including his underwear) cut from his body using knives or scissors in a careful, methodical fashion; an eye-witness described how “someone was taking these clothes and feeling every part, you know, as if there was something inside the clothes, and then putting them in a bag”72.

viii. the man is subjected to a full-body cavity search, which also entails a close examination of his hair, ears, mouth and lips.

ix. the man is photographed with a flash camera, including when he is nearly73 or totally naked74; in some instances, the man's blindfold may be removed for the purpose of a photograph in which his face is also identifiable75.

x. some accounts speak of a foreign object being forcibly inserted into the man's anus; some accounts speak more specifically of a tranquiliser or suppository being administered per rectum76 - in each description this practice has been perceived as a grossly violating act that affronts the man’s dignity.

xi. the man is then dressed in a nappy or incontinence pad and a loose-fitting "jump-suit" or set of overalls; “they put diapers on him and then there is some handling with these handcuffs and foot chains, because first they put them on and then they are supposed to put him in overalls, so then they have to alternately unlock and relock them”77.

xii. the man has his ears muffled, sometimes being made to wear a pair of "headphones"78

xiii. finally a cloth bag is placed over the man's head, with no holes through which to breathe or detect light; they “put a blindfold on him and after that a hood that apparently reaches far down on his body” 79.

xiv. the man is typically forced aboard a waiting aeroplane, where he may be “placed on a stretcher, shackled”80, or strapped to a mattress or seat, or “laid down on the floor of the plane and they bind him up in a very uncomfortable position that makes him hurt from moving”81.

xv. in some cases the man is drugged and experiences little or nothing of the actual rendition flight82; in other cases, factors such as the pain of the shackles or the refusal to drink water or use the toilet make the flight unbearable: “this was the hardest moment in my life”83.

xvi. in most cases, the man has no notion of where he is going, nor the fate that awaits him upon arrival.

86. This manner of treating detainees has been heavily criticised by the lawyers of many of the persons subjected to rendition. In his testimony to the Swedish Ombudsman, Kjell J├Ânsson, the Swedish lawyer for Mohamed Alzery84, stated his concern that the measures taken before the rendition were disproportionate to the security needs: “from Alzery’s point of view it would have been perfectly enough to ask him to co-operate and he would have done that just like he always has done before”85.

87. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this systematic practice, however, is that it appears to be intended to humiliate. Many accounts speak of these measures being taken despite ‘strong resistance’, both physical and verbal, on the part of the detainee. The nudity, forced shackling ‘like an animal’86 and being forced to wear nappies appear offensive to the notions of dignity held by the detainees. In my view it is simply not acceptable in Council of Europe member States for security services, whether European or foreign, to treat people in a manner that amounts to such “extreme humiliation”87.

Do you think this procedure complies with the 4th Amendment of the U.S Constitution?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Keep Watching Your TV

The television preaches that all people seek are pleasures obtained with money.
TV teaches people to be fascinated by violence and murder.
Censored programming glorifies war, no blood or actual suffering allowed, only tube battles. Real-time, uncensored war is not allowed on television. No returning caskets.

People sit back and surrender their free will, their imagination, their ability to make decisions for themselves.
Each day the world outside mirrors the world inside the idiot box.
Children dress like prostitutes, men buy big trucks but construct nothing.
Sports television makes heros out of drug-addicted athletes. A fine lesson, indeed.
People hang on the fates of fake heros; created to capture minds without direction.

Television programming once cost nothing, a fair price it seemed then.
Now people are tricked into paying each month to have more and more trash dropped right in their homes. American Idol. Survivor. Criminal Minds. The Sopranos.
Each year the screens grow larger and more realistic than life itself.
TV speakers are now so loud people can no longer speak to each other, hmmm.

The colorful box teaches boys to leer down women's dresses, isn't that where the camera always points?
The boob tube makes woman think they need breast implants,
Television ads repeatedly make men feel inadequate.
The old are sold drugs for ailments they never knew they had.
Talk to your doctor, Talk to your doctor, Talk to your doctor.
The side effects are minor, a little nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, sexual dysfunction.
Stay tuned, we'll be right back, don't change that channel, you will miss something important, tune in next week, severe weather at 11, more to follow...

The most important babysitter is now the television set; an evil nanny in the nursery.
Families sit and watch ten people get shot each hour, for amusement.
The fake breasts bounce past, the actors make fake love, and mobsters peddle thrills.
Real killers mimic last night's murders off every channel. What a great invention!

When people are not watching it, like television is like, all they know how to talk about. Did you like, see what was on television last night?
Who says "hello" anymore? TV has taught us "hey" is good enough.
Intelligent conversation is dead, television killed it.

Television steals the lives of billions while the few who know it is blowing minds sit reading and wonder when or if the others will ever see through the charade, the lies, and disgusting sights.

Outside the birds sing, the stars twinkle, and the earth is perhaps glad that humans have found something to distract themselves with.
Keeping watching the pretty lights in the fake wooden box and maybe, just maybe the years of destruction will have time to heal.

Stay Tuned...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Convince Your Customer To Buy

Having trouble getting a customer to buy your product or service? 

Try these proven techniques:

1. Start the conversation by saying something very sincere and very friendly.
2. Let the customer do most of the talking while you listen very carefully.
3. If you say something wrong admit it immediately and emphatically.
4. Make every effort to view the situation from your customer's point of view.
5. Be dramatic in your presentation.
6. Make sure your customer feels this purchase decision is their idea not yours.
7. Really, really respect your customer's opinions, ideas, and desires.
8. After a few minutes be sure to challenge your customer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Stock Update and War Quotes

STOCK UPDATES: Earlier this week I mentioned Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (PPHM) progress with bavituximab (formerly Tarvacin) in the fight against the H5N1 bird flu virus. Today Indonesia's Antara News Service announced a possible case of human-to-human transmission of H5N1. A nurse apparently treated her siblings and they later died of the bird flu. The nurse claims to have had no contact with poultry, difficult to imagine in a country that consumes so much chicken. She certainly had direct contact with her siblings who apparently had contact with chickens. In any event Peregrine Pharmaceuticals stock soared 17%, along with the stocks of several other firms working on bird flu vaccines.

The Bombay Stock Exchange saw the second biggest gain in its long history today. The SENSEX index went up 380 points. The only larger Bombay SENSEX increase was 426 points back in 1992. This impacted ICICI Bank (IBN) shares along with funds like Blackstone's India Fund (IFN) and Morgan Stanley's India Investment Fund (IIF). The BSE has been sailing in choppy waters over the past few weeks but basically mirroring the international markets, except valued in rupees instead of dollars.

Bank of America (BAC) remains strong but it really does pay a fair dividend for shares priced under $50.

Brazil's BOVESPA and Mexico's BOLSA turned around to lend support to stellar funds like T Rowe Price's Latin America fund (PRLAX), Fidelity's (FLATX), and Merrill's (MALTX). It goes to show you that diversification into international markets is worth the bumpy ride if you stay in for years, not days.

(Note: The author may hold shares in some of firms/funds mentioned above at some point during any given year.)

The American people will not relish the idea of any American citizen growing rich and fat in an emergency of blood and slaughter and human suffering. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

I still remember the effect I produced on a small group of Galla tribesmen massed around a man in black clothes. I dropped an aerial torpedo right in the center, and the group opened up like a flowering rose. It was most entertaining. - Vittorio Mussolini

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason. - Ernest Hemingway

When civil dudgeon first grew high.
And men fell out, they knew not why;
When hard words, jealousies and fears,
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For dame Religion as for punk;...
- Butler, Hudibras