News commentary and predictions of political trends and what the future holds

Archive for October, 2007

I should pay more tax, says US billionaire

October 31, 2007

I should pay more tax, says US billionaire Warren Buffett | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Warren Buffet makes too much money and wants the US Government to take more in tax from him and other extreme income makers. He is pissed that he pays lower tax rates than all of his employees. Republicans fear that hiking tax rates for the very very wealthy will cause a recession.

Ok, when Bush decided that everyone else was wrong and the super rich deserved to keep most of their “hard earned” capital and profit, in New Zealand a left wing Labour government decided to increase the top band of taxes and has run burgeoning surpluses. This government taxes more than it needs to due to the weight of past mistakes that put the country into extreme debt to its trading partners and competitors. Anyone with a credit card knows going into debt to purchase businesses that then do not recover your economy is financial suicide.

Between the USA indebtedness on an extremely costly and failing military strategy to control oil and NZ that buckled down to be successful despite the high tax rate environment – the comparison is stark. Year after year the NZ electorate clamours for a tax cut – but the economics are simple. While the country can not meet debt obligations, tax cuts have been seen as unlikely. But the economy continues to defy the USA logic and grow despite a difficult tax regime.

The disturbing trend is how the American people are being economically fooled by the Bush double handed manouvere. By mortgaging the wealth of American industry against the protection of an economically declining resource and rewarding and building a huge military need – Bush has squandered the enormous strength of the US economy, but for what?

The Iraq war has made terrorism in the “homeland” (a bigotted term, if there ever was one) much more likely than ever. It has made a popular hero of Osama bin Laden as the remaining figurehead in the fight against liberal values. Let’s face it. Compared to Osama, Bush is a liberal!


October 30, 2007

Suicide bombers have threatened the security of political leaders in Pakistan and one must consider that if such attempts were successful that there could be a revolution in Pakistan that would set the knife on edge in Washington. There may be enormous support for Former premier and Leader of the Opposition Benazir Bhutto who seeks reelection – but it appears that al Qaeda have other ideas. The center of al Qaeda and Taliban movements are now in Pakistan and it would be their goal to disrupt democracy and ferment fear with Islamic revolution as their goal. And what a prize Pakistan would be – teetering on the balance between a democratic nation with a large voice internationally and a third world country with a vast population under the bread line. The ability to afford to purchase food is a primary division of freedom between “the West” from people from third world countries.

The Taliban and al Qaeda do not belong in Government. USA centric strategy ignores the fact that it’s investment in Iraq is the wrong investment. If they were not so rushed about invading, if they had negotiated with the Saddam Government effectively or simply replaced Saddam with another regime that kept Iraq stable – the US economy would be stronger, and the less expensive military effort in Afghanistan that still has international support would be done and dusted by now. With out al Qaeda and the Taliban – the war would have been won two years ago and Iraq could have been negotiated with if the Shiite militia were not motivated to shoot at Sunni militants.

It is a waste of human resources to take down the Taliban in Afghanistan but so ineffectively that it takes root elsewhere. The real crime is not conducting war properly so that there is a winner and total defeat of the enemy. What other kind of war is there?

If the USA is going to conduct military adventures then it is indeed a waste of American resources to conduct wars according to the whim of a dyslexic president who is so convinced of his “faith” that he justifies every mistake by shaming anyone who says – hey – hold on a minute – this is not right.

GW Bush and his ineffective grasp on history has reduced the USA to potentially losing a war against an army run by old sick men in caves? Well that may be an overstatement today but unfortunately it may be closer to the truth today than before the Iraq invasion.

And now the Kurds and Turkey. Another larger can of worms has started to open.

Nature has spoken and needs to be heard

October 28, 2007

Nature has spoken and needs to be heard – 29 Oct 2007 – NZ Herald: World / International News

Listen up, folks!

State Department rebuked over lack of Oversight in Use of Mercenary Contractors

October 25, 2007

State Department rebuked over lack of Oversight in Use of Mercenary Contractors « SlowDecline’s Weblog reveals an extraordinary state of affairs in the undermanned State Dept. According to this blog entry, the budget for state dept employees stretches to 17 people to oversee the entire professional military spend for mercenaries or “professional soldiers” working for DynCorp, Blackwater and the like – a 4 billion dollar overspend.

What is truly disturbing is this:

“There are also expenditures by another department called the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Their contracts worth more than $2.2 billion have gone to training police and the war on drugs. These funds have primarily gone to Iraq, Latin America and Afghanistan (Afghanistan supplies 90% of the world’s heroin production and their production has mushroomed beyond expectations since the US invasion). Approximately 94% of the funds dispersed by the bureau have gone to DynCorp.”

So, who is DynCorp? According to their website: DynCorp International is a multifaceted, global enterprise that provides innovative solutions to the diverse technology and professional services needs of government and commercial industry worldwide.

Not so fast, the US State Dept has this to say about Dyncorp.

“A U.S. State Department audit of a Dyncorp International (NYSE:DCP) LLC contract under the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund released Tuesday found that investigators were unable to determine what the company had provided under the contract or how $1.2 billion in funds were spent.”

Hmm. Perhaps there is a bit of a problem in the way things are being done over at DynCorp. The Decider is not going to become The Accounts Clerk and sort this mess out. That’s Dick’s Dept.

To post your own substantial rumours or disturbing trends, don’t forget you can now join our new joinable member site inviting new contributors now

End of the War

October 24, 2007

Over on the discussion site – how do the Americans end the war?

Twenty Percent Americans Victims Of Financial Scams.

Interesting Life: Twenty Percent Americans Victims Of Financial Scams.

This blog article on Interesting Life: Trend Watch reveals the extend by which scammers have been successfully phishing bank account numbers from their fake lottery win spam.

If you were to win an international prize in a lottery, I think they would let you know by snail mail or telephone call as well as possibly by email (though I think that unlikely). To reduce temptation to follow-up more “official” or “credible” scams – put it this way, how many lottery tickets do buy before you tend to win a major prize?

For most of us all the lottery tickets that we buy are not winners. It is the nature of the game. Now how many multi million dollar prize emails have you received?

Put another way – if someone is offering you “free money” on the internet and they are not addressing you specifically (so it is an email to many) and is from a hotmail or yahoo address – I am 100% certain it is a scam. You can not be one of many winners. You can not be known and most important – there is nothing to hook up your trust with, you can open a hotmail account today without verified address details and cancel it tomorrow.

The problem with scams on the internet is that the people who are conducting them are criminals out to get your money. They are tremendously good at manipulating you because that is how they survive. The way to stop this is to make the method ineffective.

Instead of relying on law enforcement who can not act until a criminal act has occurred, use gmail as a post office and report all phishing attempts.

It is like when the UN places sanctions on an unruly member. Do not do trade with criminals.

The erosion of trust for real business and honest people wanting to make the internet work for their club, organisation or life – is a great shame.

Gullibility is a dirty word. Let undercover cops be the only customers of phishing attempts!

Scoop: Why Thursdays’ anti-terrorism bill is bad

October 23, 2007

Scoop: Why Thursdays’ anti-terrorism bill is bad

That the bill is “bad” or not may depend on what is one’s religious belief about what “terrorism” is.

It makes little sense to include civil protest in the same legal compartment as terrorism, a justification for war. Recent arrests by police of about 17 suspects in New Zealand – charged with gun possession crimes has met with a general outcry at the heavy handed arrest of activist and “known Maori Sovereignty campaigner” Tame Iti who embodies the public ideal of a freedom fighter.

Not that a Maori sovereignty is not a right. No less than the continued accepted international face of the rather successful New Zealand Government. Any approach with AK-47s would not result in any safe form of Government.

Discussion pages

Contribute your disturbing trends here

October 22, 2007

Finally I fixed the template columns.

Articles can now be discussed between readers of Disturbing Trends. I am not always right or are my prescriptions for peace necessarily taking everyone into account.

I would like to see if it works better than this site. The design template is under experiment so may change. But the basic idea is that an article on this site is a headline to a longer analysis linked on the discussion site. You can also register to get updates from the discussion site. Or become a CONTRIBUTOR and submit articles for inclusion on Disturbing Trends.

Project Censored Media Democracy in Action

October 17, 2007

Project Censored Media Democracy in Action
Top 25 Censored
news stories of 2007

#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo
#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
# 7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
#10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians
#11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed
#12 Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines
#13 New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup
#14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US
#15 Chemical Industry is EPA’s Primary Research Partner
#16 Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court
#17 Iraq Invasion Promotes OPEC Agenda
#18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
#19 Destruction of Rainforests Worst Ever
#20 Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem
#21 Gold Mining Threatens Ancient Andean Glaciers
#22 $Billions in Homeland Security Spending Undisclosed
#23 US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe
#24 Cheney’s Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year
#25 US Military in Paraguay Threatens Region

Project Censored documents with some detail each of these suppressed stories. Many of these are independent reasons that the Bush Administration should be taken to task for nepotism, corruption, starting wars for profit and endangering humanity with damage to the environment. It is a little hard to make sense of how a country could become so extreme in its efforts to present one bold face to the electorate while doing something that the rest of the world (and the other half of the USA) perceive as evil, corrupt and dangerous.

Or is this extreme rumour mongering at its worst? We do not think so, and in the case of Mr Cheney and Halliburton – wonder at where this commericial military establishment is going to stop taking liberties that the world can ill afford to support.

In March 1996 Dick Cheney said “Let me make a generalized statement about a trend I see in the U.S. Congress that I find disturbing, that applies not only with respect to the Iranian situation but a number of others as well, I think we Americans sometimes make mistakes . . . There seems to be an assumption that somehow we know what’s best for everybody else and that we are going to use our economic clout to get everybody else to live the way we would like.”

Yes. Indeed. Project Censored go on to say:

Cheney was the chief executive of Halliburton Corporation at the time he uttered those words. It was Cheney who directed Halliburton toward aggressive business dealings with Iran—in violation of U.S. law—in the mid-1990s, which continued through 2005 and is the reason Iran has the capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium.
It was Halliburton’s secret sale of centrifuges to Iran that helped get the uranium enrichment program off the ground, according to a three-year investigation that includes interviews conducted with more than a dozen current and former Halliburton employees.

The Climate Project

The Climate Project

What we can do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from our own daily lives. If you extrapolate the CO2 per head of polluters over the whole developed world (say 1.5 billion bodies) for avoiding products with lots of packaging (1,200 lbs of CO2 for waste disposal) it becomes clear how it is really partly the responsibility of each inhabitant as well as Governments placing strict regulations on business; it is these regulations that would result from the USA being part of a Carbon trading exchange that prompted President Bush to resist Kyoto and “protect US interests”. Of course it does not protect anyone’s interest – the damage that man’s policies have enacted have brought us much closer to rock bottom with this addiction to waste.

Dennis Kucinich – Presidential Candidate

October 16, 2007

Dennis Kucinich – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kucinich Plan For Iraq

On 8 January, 2007 Dennis Kucinich unveiled his comprehensive exit plan to bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq.[45] His plan includes the following steps:[46]

1. Announce that the US will end the occupation, close the military bases, and withdraw.
2. Announce that existing funds will be used to bring the troops and the necessary equipment home.
3. Order a simultaneous return of all U.S. contractors to the United States and turn over the contracting work to the Iraqi government
4. Convene a regional conference for the purpose of developing a security and stabilization force for Iraq.
5. Prepare an international security peacekeeping force to move in, replacing U.S. troops, who then return home.
6. Develop and fund a process of national reconciliation.
7. Restart programs for reconstruction and creating jobs for the Iraqi people.
8. Provide reparations for the damage that has been done to the lives of Iraqis.
9. Assure the political sovereignty of Iraq and ensure that their oil isn't stolen.
10. Repair the Iraqi economy.
11. Guarantee economic sovereignty for Iraq.
12. Commence an international truth and reconciliation process, which establishes a policy of truth and reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq.

Assume Al Gore is not going to run for President (although his short crop of films on CurrentTV look like the start of a campaign – outlining his positions on issues) – who is the closest candidate to him? It seems that on Iraq, Dennis Kucinich is closer to Al Gore and Barak Obama, than front runner Hilary appears to be. Kucinich includes reparations to the damage to the lives of the Iraqi people. One can be fairly sure that if the Kucinich plan were enacted, that Iraq would remember America as a good influence rather than the increasing acceptance that President Bush had it in for Iraq.

The wide range of issues represented at the Primaries stage of the American “system” is when democratic representation speaks more volumes as raw cash accessibility rather than the smarts of the individuals considered.

Radical change is unlikely in a country driven by vested interest. The United States of America will continue to have corrupted Presidential selection processes so long as they allow Diebold to measure the vote without a paper trail. It makes Watergate seem watertight.

One must admire aspects of conservative politics as it erupts across the world. It is halting progress here in Auckland as a new Right Wing mayor pulls the plug on sharing in the financial participation of the city in upgrading its own stadium for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Conservatives feel a right to their destiny even when morally bankrupt. But they are generally better at scandals. And under Helen Clark (who would also tend to agree with Kucinich on most issues) it has been rare for a juicy scandal to appear quite so often.

Al Gore – The Ultimate Conservative

October 13, 2007

With Prize, Gore Is Vindicated Without Having to Add President to Résumé – New York Times

He wants the planet to remain firmly in the creative hands of humans and although he ran as a liberal this is the most conservative of streaks. Al Gore should run for President but in the interests of clarity perhaps he should displace the republican field. A return to real values and actual wealth would be a welcome return to wholesome American values post the distorting Bush legacy of debt and war. Did it not eventually become Bush sandwiched between war and tax reduction resulting in, most likely, huge accumulations of wealth carefully and expertly removed to tax shelters. The American deficit is not just what Bush spends it is what every American (in the USA at least) spends that is not home made. It is the considerably larger slice of the pie than anyone else.

The staggering wealth of America is matched by the scale of its indebtedness. It is not likely to be a poor risk, either. Sharing wealth may open doors you were not bargaining for, who knows. It was not Gore’s legacy and for that, the country fair aches for his return. He does not seem to be applying for the job, probably feels vindicated in the position he is already in.

For more comment and discussion check out the new Disturbing Trends over here.

The Republican Experiment

October 8, 2007

Is the Republican dalliance with empire building any guide as to what may come next in their view of the future of the world?

Do we want the Democrats “reasonable” vision of tomorrow – where every child is educated and given adequate health care and thus not “held back” by poverty.

Or is it better for nature and economics to pick the winners, even when one winner may make enough for doing nothing to feed 10,000 mouths? There is that school of thought, that nature has its competitive elements set against each other so naturally via a process of elinimation 
the best survival techniques are forwarded.

It is a little like arguing that without death life becomes unattractive.  We need the limit to enable the engine to accelerate with any urgency.  Vitality is not earned via force.  Invasion of foreign will blunts the engagement of purpose.  Authorship of ideas extends credibility.

Where is the Republican Experiement leading? 

Ending War

October 4, 2007

It strikes me as odd how the Right Wing debate is not so much “why are we fighting” as “those dirty Democrats caused all this!”. Blaming the opposition is a necessity of our political philosophy – from the cradle of conflict we believe truth will emerge.

The Democrats want to withdraw the troops – at least Barak Obama does. In fact he wants to end all war everywhere if I read him right. Compare this with the most Right wing candidates like Fred Thompson, riding on his popular appeal certainly – but not short of a policy or two. His is one of the more popular candidate websites but then again so is Denis Kucinich.

The Republicans want everyone to swallow hard and accept that the Bush strategy is the correct strategy. Right wing talk boards resound with the justification that Islamofascism is “evil” and must be “destroyed”. How many Republicans know one thing about Islam beyond framing it as “evil”? This type of thinking is masked racism.

Masked – as it is framed by ideology – but one could rephrase this and call it anti-semitism. This entire hatred and fear campaign against Islam is just plain wrong. The demonisation of an enemy is necessary in the comic book reality of the American media mind. He is a bad guy because he is a dictator. He is a fascist. He is an evil dictator. He is Evil.

So, Mr Bush – who is good? Those who agree with you that killing hundreds of thousands of people is ridding the world of terrorism? What do you think about the government of Burma? They seem to be copying your example.

Left vs Right

October 3, 2007

Sister Toldjah » Tom Friedman: We need a 9/10 president in a post-9/11 world

Sister Toldjah won’t take no nonsense from this lefty diatribe emiting – lefty…

another 9/10 lefty, still doesn’t understand is that those barriers weren’t meant to keep the good people out – they’re there to keep people who aim to do us harm from getting in

Sister – someone is going to say you are feeling paranoid about your safety inside the barricades of protected USA soil. Protected by international loans financing a huge internal monitoring machine of people employed to detect a flicker of an eyelid out of place on the concourse, or the wrong person at the wrong place at the wrong time – whatever that may mean.

The true cost of terrorism is the reaction of grief and anger. The USA is well known for its most excessive citizens – it is just that they have rather a lot of them can afford plastic surgery to cure their minds of eternal boredom. The super-super wealthy worry about the dynamic placement of the decimal point at the end of a day or week more than the hunger of the children of their lowliest employee. It is unfortunate that the values that were borne of the New Deal (post Depression egalitarian recovery) did not survive the years of excess, nor was that generation exposed to building leaping poverty in quite the same way.

The last fifty years or so have been a success story in so far as wealth creation in the USA is concerned. Unquestionably. But how much of that wealth is being corroded by military adventures such as Iraq and Vietnam, that America would have been better off to avoid, perhaps.

What is being protected is the sense of success and empowerment over the rest of the world. Is that a good thing? Probably not. The USA needs to come out of this adolescent need for self adoration and obsession with appearances. Real wealth is not dependent upon attacking the rest of the world. It is reliant on the good faith of your friends and neighbours.

Also, as a comment on the site:

I think Friedman has a point – there is little point in America spending hundreds of billions of dollars on paranoid security if it stops investment that would a) stop bin Laden and b) encourage democracy and free trade everywhere.

The mistake is to think that war will achieve either goal. The left and right are both guilty of attacking each other for being what they are. Both sides of a political view are right and wrong. The war on terror has not achieved its basic objectives and seems to be feeding terror rather than destroying it. The US Government has no result for this war and that is why Friedman does have a point.

“Let’s fight terrorism until we win, we will prevail!” is not reasonable strategic planning. Neither is sudden withdrawal, neither is continuing to fight. Americans need to stop criticizing each other and think more carefully about their country’s strategy and direction.