Archive for January 18, 2011

TSA Now Forcing Opt-Outs To Walk Through Body Scanners

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Agency claims machines are “switched off,” traveler says policy is part of psychological ploy to coerce subservience from other passengers

TSA Now Forcing Opt Outs To Walk Through Body Scanners 180111feature

Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If the experience of a man traveling through Baltimore Washington International Airport last night is anything to go by, the TSA is now forcing people who opt out of the naked body scanner to walk through the machine as part of a psychological ploy to coerce subservience out of other travelers.

Alexander Petersen was passing through security to board a domestic flight to Florida with his wife and three children. After the backscatter x-ray machines were turned on, TSA staff started corralling passengers to go through the naked body scanners. Petersen’s family escaped selection but when he was told to submit to a scan, Peterson declined and opted for the invasive pat down instead.

“They then called for an “opt-out” pat down and still told me I had to go through the machine,” writes Petersen. “I said no, and reiterated that I opt for the pat-down. They said that I just have to walk through the machine and that they won’t turn it on. I said “how do I know it’s not on, just because you say so?” Then, one of the other workers stood inside of the machine where the footprints were and waived for me to go through. With that, I assumed that it was indeed off, and proceeded through the machine for my enhanced pat-down molestation.”

After receiving his advanced grope down, during which a TSA worker felt his crotch and backside, much to the confusion of Peterson’s young son who asked, “what is that man doing to you?,” Petersen reflected on being forced to walk through the machine with assurances that it was “switched off,” even though he had declined to be body scanned.

Read more…

The Rise of the New Global Elite

January 18, 2011 Comments off

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.

By  Chrystia Freeland
The Atlantic

If you happened to be watching NBC on the first Sunday morning in August last summer, you would have seen something curious. There, on the set of Meet the Press, the host, David Gregory, was interviewing a guest who made a forceful case that the U.S. economy had become “very distorted.” In the wake of the recession, this guest explained, high-income individuals, large banks, and major corporations had experienced a “significant recovery”; the rest of the economy, by contrast—including small businesses and “a very significant amount of the labor force”—was stuck and still struggling. What we were seeing, he argued, was not a single economy at all, but rather “fundamentally two separate types of economy,” increasingly distinct and divergent.

This diagnosis, though alarming, was hardly unique: drawing attention to the divide between the wealthy and everyone else has long been standard fare on the left. (The idea of “two Americas” was a central theme of John Edwards’s 2004 and 2008 presidential runs.) What made the argument striking in this instance was that it was being offered by none other than the former five-term Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: iconic libertarian, preeminent defender of the free market, and (at least until recently) the nation’s foremost devotee of Ayn Rand. When the high priest of capitalism himself is declaring the growth in economic inequality a national crisis, something has gone very, very wrong.

This widening gap between the rich and non-rich has been evident for years. In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest”: Read more…

Giving personal information to websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Gmail is about as secure as putting it on “a postcard”

January 18, 2011 Comments off

An Icelandic politician whose Internet records are being targeted by Washingtons WikiLeaks investigation warns that giving personal information to websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Gmail is about as secure as putting it on a postcard.”

They are on a fishing expedition,” Birgitta Jonsdottir told The Globe and Mail editorial board, making some of her first public comments since learning that U.S. prosecutors are after her Twitter account. Her private messages, credit-card and telephone numbers are all being sought from the social-networking site – and, almost certainly, from other U.S.-based Internet corporations, too.

The request speaks to how state secrets will be won, lost and protected during the Internet Age, where libraries worth of data can be uploaded onto thumb drives, and where unfathomable amounts of person-to-person correspondence reside on corporate computers inside the United States.

A freedom-of-information advocate, Ms. Jonsdottir, 43, became a crucial WikiLeaks volunteer in 2009, but left last fall amid fallings-out with the leadership of founder Julian Assange. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is now under tremendous pressure to charge Mr. Assange amid the deep embarrassment caused by the ongoing disclosure of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables. Read more…

Why Are Commodity Prices Rising? Let Me Count the Ways

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Our overview of 2011 ‘What Ifs’ concentrated on the concepts of bifurcation and biflation. Those themes are already playing out just a couple of weeks into the New Year. Inflation in all types of commodities has ramped up even further, leaving countries like China, India, Brazil, Thailand and South Korea to deal with more than their fair share of these inflationary forces. Meanwhile, easy monetary policy in the U.S. and Europe just adds fuel to the inflation fire.

The United Nations food agency (FAO) kicked off 2011 by announcing that December of 2010 saw food prices eclipse the record levels hit during the 2008 food crisis, which triggered riots in Egypt, Cameroon, and Haiti at the time. The current spike in food prices has already caused violent food riots in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, and Jordan.

Food Inflation by the Numbers

Food inflation has already hit double digits in China, India and Brazil. It’s not hard to see why when you look at how some of the major soft commodities have performed over the last 12 months:

  • Corn: + 69%
  • Wheat: + 47%
  • Soy Beans: + 44%
  • Sugar: + 15%
  • Coffee: + 65%
  • Cotton: + 105%

(Trailing 12-month price moves as of January 12, 2011)

While these price spikes are causing food and clothing prices to rise, those effects will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the simultaneous rise in energy and raw materials we have seen:

  • Oil: + 15% over 12 months and + 30% since the August, 2010 low
  • Copper: + 30%

Overall, you can see the rise in commodity prices in the CRB Index, up about 30% since August of 2010, but well off the parabolic peak of 2008: Read more…

Tunisia Riots: Government on brink of Collapse

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Unity Government in Tunisia Fractured by Resignations

Holly Pickett for The New York Times

Police formed a line in front of protesters in Tunis on Tuesday.



TUNIS — Five or more ministers from opposition parties resigned from Tunisia’s unity government on Tuesday, bowing to a wave of street protests against the cabinet’s domination by members of the ousted president’s ruling party and putting mounting pressure on his prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, to resign as well.

As the leaders of the established opposition parties renounced the unity government, the revolutionary passions unleashed across the region continued to reverberate, as two more men in Egypt set themselves ablaze on Tuesday and a third was stopped before he could do so. Those self-immolations followed six others, all in apparent imitation of the one that set off the Tunisian uprising a month ago.

The new unity government was showing strains practically from the moment it was sworn in on Monday, with new protests focused on its links to the former president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Read more…

Gold May Gain as Europe Debt Concern, Price Drop Spur Demand

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Sungwoo Park

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) — Gold may gain as concerns that the European sovereign-debt crisis may linger boost demand for precious metals as a protector of wealth, and as a price drop in the past two weeks spurs physical buying. Platinum gained.

Bullion for immediate delivery was little changed at $1,364.18 an ounce at 1:33 p.m. in Seoul. The metal, which rose to a record $1,341.25 in December, dropped 4 percent this month, heading for the first monthly decline since July. The February- delivery contract rose 0.2 percent to $1,363.50 an ounce in New York.

“Around this level, we still see quite good physical demand,” Bruce Ikemizu, head of commodity trading at Standard Bank Plc in Tokyo, said today by phone. “I’m rather pessimistic. The problems won’t be resolved overnight. This European financial problem will be a long-term bullish factor for gold and precious metals.”

The euro was little changed against the dollar after yesterday falling 0.7 percent amid concern that an agreement among European finance ministers will fail to contain the region’s debt crisis. Euro-area finance ministers indicated after a meeting yesterday they aren’t facing immediate pressure to tame the crisis, while pledging to strengthen the safety net for debt-strapped countries.

Morgan Stanley raised its gold forecast through 2015, the bank said in a report today. It expects gold to average $1,400 an ounce this year, 6 percent more than a previous forecast.

Assets in 10 gold exchange-traded products dropped 6.54 metric tons to about 2,078 tons as of Jan. 14, the lowest since Sept. 15, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Platinum for immediate delivery gained 0.5 percent to $1,813.70 an ounce. Spot palladium declined for a fourth day, dropping 0.4 percent to $791.50 an ounce, while silver was little changed at $28.2975 an ounce.

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Representative McCarthy Releases Text of Gun Control Bill

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Following the tragic Tucson, Arizona shooting, lawmakers quickly reacted by announcing their intent to strengthen gun control laws. On Sunday, Representative Carolyn McCarthy released the draft of the bill that she is planning to introduce to Congress next week, one that would outlaw high-capacity magazines.

Politico reports, “Representative Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-N.Y.) bill also goes further than the assault weapon ban that would expire in 2004, outlawing the sale or transfer of clips that hold more than ten rounds, even those obtained before the law takes effect.”

Likewise, it “closes a loophole in the expired assault weapon ban that let gun owners buy high-capacity magazines made before the ban took effect in 1994.”

Those who violate the provisions of the bill face a possible penalty of up to 10 years.

McCarthy explains of the bill, “The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible. There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has already stated that he will introduce a Read more…