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Demeter

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 85,373

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Obama Repeals ObamaCare WSJ Editorial board member Joe Rago


http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702304367204579270252042143502-lMyQjAxMTAzMDIwMTEyNDEyWj

...The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law's success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt. Individuals whose health plans were canceled will now automatically qualify for a "hardship exemption" from the mandate. If they can't or don't sign up for a new plan, they don't have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30.
***

So merry Christmas. If ObamaCare's benefit and income redistribution requirements made your old, cheaper, better health plan illegal, you now have the option of going without coverage without the government taking your money as punishment. You can also claim the tautological consolation of an ObamaCare hardship exemption due to ObamaCare itself...These exemptions were supposed to go only to the truly destitute such as the homeless, bankrupts or victims of domestic violence. But this week a group of six endangered Senate Democrats importuned HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to "clarify" that the victims of ObamaCare also qualify...HHS and the Senators must have coordinated in advance because literally overnight HHS rushed out a bulletin noting that exemptions are available to those who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan." A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what's the difference?

The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a "significant, unexpected increase." In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover "an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable." In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people "are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement." She means the new plans are overpriced...The under-30 ObamaCare category that is being opened to everyone is called "catastrophic" coverage. These plans are still more expensive than those sold on the former market but they're about 20% cheaper on average than normal exchange plans because fewer mandates apply and they're priced for a healthier, younger risk pool. Liberal Democrats hated making even this concession when they wrote the law, so people who pick catastrophic plans don't get subsidies. What an incredible political turnabout. Mr. Obama and HHS used to insist that the new plans are better and less expensive after subsidies than the old "substandard" insurance. Now they're conceding that at least some people should be free to choose less costly plans if they prefer—or no plan—and ObamaCare's all-you-can-eat benefits rules aren't necessary for quality health coverage after all.

But the White House is shredding ObamaCare's economics on its own terms. Premiums for catastrophic products are based on the assumption that enrollees would be under 30. A 55-year-old will now get a steep discount on care courtesy of the insurer's balance sheet, while other risk-tiers on the exchanges will have even fewer customers to make the actuarial math work. Pulling the thread of the individual mandate also means that the whole scheme could unravel. Waiving ObamaCare rules for some citizens and continuing to squeeze the individual economic liberties of others by forcing them to buy what the White House now concedes is an unaffordable product is untenable. Mr. Obama is inviting a blanket hardship amnesty for everyone, which is what Republicans should demand. The new political risk that the rules are liable to change at any moment will also be cycled into 2015 premiums. Expect another price spike late next summer. With ObamaCare looking like a loss-making book of business, a public declaration of penance by the insurance industry for helping to sell ObamaCare is long overdue. The only political explanation for relaxing enforcement of the individual mandate—even at the risk of destabilizing ObamaCare in the long term—is that the White House is panicked that the whole entitlement is endangered. The insurance terminations and rollout fiasco could leave more people uninsured in 2014 than in 2013. ObamaCare's unpopularity with the public could cost Democrats the Senate in 2014, and a GOP Congress in 2015 could compel the White House to reopen the law and make major changes. Republicans ought to prepare for that eventuality with insurance reforms beyond the "repeal" slogan, but they can also take some vindication in Thursday's reversal. Mr. Obama's actions are as damning about ObamaCare as anything Senator Ted Cruz has said, and they implicitly confirm that the law is quarter-baked and harmful. Mr. Obama is doing through executive fiat what Republicans shut down the government to get him to do.
***

MORE---AND DON'T SHOOT ME! I'M ONLY THE MESSENGER

Radiation from Fukushima Will Be 10 Times Bigger than All Radiation from Nuclear Tests Combined

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/fukushima.html

Putting Fukushima In Perspective: There was no background radioactive cesium before above-ground nuclear testing and nuclear accidents started. Wikipedia provides some details on the distribution of cesium-137 due to human activities:

Small amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137 were released into the environment during nearly all nuclear weapon tests and some nuclear accidents, most notably the Chernobyl disaster.

***

Caesium-137 is unique in that it is totally anthropogenic. Unlike most other radioisotopes, caesium-137 is not produced from its non-radioactive isotope, but from uranium. It did not occur in nature before nuclear weapons testing began. By observing the characteristic gamma rays emitted by this isotope, it is possible to determine whether the contents of a given sealed container were made before or after the advent of atomic bomb explosions. This procedure has been used by researchers to check the authenticity of certain rare wines, most notably the purported “Jefferson bottles”.


As the EPA notes:

Cesium-133 is the only naturally occurring isotope and is non-radioactive; all other isotopes, including cesium-137, are produced by human activity.

What people call “background” radiation is really the amount of radiation deposited into the environment within the last 100 years from nuclear tests and nuclear accidents (and naturally-occurring substances, such as radon).

2,053 nuclear tests occurred between 1945 and 1998:



Above-ground nuclear tests – which caused numerous cancers to the “downwinders” – were covered up by the American, French and other governments for decades...But the amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima dwarfs the amount released by the nuclear tests...This graphic from Woods Hole in Massachusetts – one of the world’s top ocean science institutions – shows how much more cesium was dumped into the sea off Japan from Fukushima as compared to nuclear testing and Chernobyl:



(And Fukushima radiation has arrived on the West Coast years earlier than predicted.)

MORE

Detroit's Dan Gilbert: Henry Ford or Henry Potter?


WHAT A VULTURE! FIRST HE DEFRAUDS THE HOMEOWNERS INTO FORECLOSURE, NOW HE WANTS TO "REDEVELOP" BY RAZING AND REBUILDING...

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20604-detroits-dan-gilbert-henry-ford-or-henry-potter

THIS GUY ISN'T FORD OR POTTER...HE'S VOLDEMORT!

GEORGIA Drivers: Officers profiling specific cars for searches NOVEMBER

http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/state/story/Drivers-Officers-profiling-specific-cars-for/7UOAK37lREWfYg01_AxTkQ.cspx

...Four families, an attorney, and even an officer told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer that officers are violating drivers' rights based on the type of cars they drive....In all three of the above cases, police found nothing during the search. All of the drivers filed police department complaints. All were driving Dodge Chargers.

"I had never heard of car profiling, not until now," Williamson said.


Another Gwinnett police officer who witnessed the search filed a complaint against the officer who did it. In a written report, an internal affairs investigator admitted Williamson's 'vehicle would draw the attention of police officers.'

"He just said you're more likely to be pulled over because of the Dodge Charger and because of the theft of Dodge Chargers and because of the way they're built they're more likely to have a bunch of drugs in them," Williamson said.


"To suggest that driving a particular type of car indicates you're committing a crime is ridiculous," said attorney Mark Bullman, who has already filed a lawsuit against DeKalb County, alleging a pattern of illegal car searches by officers
...



But a metro-area K-9 officer told Channel 2 he is often asked to provide that 'suspicion' by having his dog show up and alert on the outside of the car, which gives officers the authority to search the inside.

"They're hitting when they shouldn't be hitting and then the second issue is that the handlers are cuing the dogs, causing them to hit and then using that as the impetus to then improperly or illegally search the vehicle," the officer said, asking not to be identified.


He said he's also noticed a pattern.

"Your Chargers, certain Chevy vehicles we're seeing, your Challengers, and vehicles of that nature. They're being targeted specifically because young black men are driving those vehicles," the officer said...


Shenita Hampton said she's not willing to take the risk, "My husband and I, we decided to get rid of [the car] because we're hearing more and more stories of Chargers being pulled over, and I didn't want to go through that anymore."


DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Alexander told Fleischer his officers do not target specific cars. All of the above-mentioned cases happened before Alexander joined the department; however he says there is now constant training and reinforcement of proper search procedures and good customer service.

Bitcoin, Magical Thinking, and Political Ideology Alex Payne

https://al3x.net/2013/12/18/bitcoin.html



Last week, investor Chris Dixon posed a provocative dichotomy when introducing his employer’s USD $25M investment in Bitcoin service Coinbase:

“The press tends to portray Bitcoin as either a speculative bubble or a scheme for supporting criminal activity. In Silicon Valley, by contrast, Bitcoin is generally viewed as a profound technological breakthrough.”


Now working at vogue venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Dixon is in a fine position to speak for Silicon Valley. But to the extent that the Valley is a placeholder for the technology industry at large, I beg to differ. Bitcoin is “generally viewed” quite differently. Most charitably, Bitcoin is regarded as a flawed but nonetheless worthwhile experiment, one that has unfortunately attracted outsized attention and investment before correcting any number of glaring security issues. To those less kind, Bitcoin has become synonymous with everything wrong with Silicon Valley: a marriage of dubious technology and questionable economics wrapped up in a crypto-libertarian political agenda that smacks of nerds-do-it-better paternalism. With its influx of finance mercenaries, the Bitcoin community is a grim illustration of greed running roughshod over meaningful progress. Far from a “breakthrough”, Bitcoin is viewed by many technologists as an intellectual sinkhole. A person’s sincere interest in Bitcoin is evidence that they are disconnected from the financial problems most people face while lacking a fundamental understanding of the role and function of central banking. The only thing “profound” about Bitcoin is its community’s near-total obliviousness to reality.

Regulation and Other Minor Details

Bitcoin owes its present flexibility to a lack of regulation (or, more accurately, a lack of understanding around existing regulations and/or unwillingness to comply with them). If the broader Bitcoin experiment doesn’t implode, the currency will be regulated just as any other. In this best-case scenario for Bitcoin, what of the benefits Dixon claims? We’re told that Bitcoin “fixes serious problems with existing payment systems that depend on centralized services to verify the validity of transactions.” If by “fixes” you mean “ignores”, then yes: a Bitcoin transaction, like cash, comes with the certainty that a definite quantity of a store of value has changed hands, and little else. How this verifies any “validity” or cuts down on fraud I’m not sure; stolen Bitcoins are spent as easily as stolen cash, which is why theft of Bitcoins has been rampant....


Silicon Valley has a seemingly endless capacity to mistake social and political problems for technological ones, and Bitcoin is just the latest example of this selective blindness. The underbanked will not be lifted out of poverty by conducting their meager daily business in a cryptocurrency rather than a fiat currency, even if Bitcoin or its ilk manages to reduce marginal transaction costs (at scale and in full regulatory compliance, that is). But then, we should note that Dixon wasn’t talking about lifting anyone out of poverty, just “offering them low-cost financial services”. Also notable is that both Andreessen and Horowitz supported Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, giving us some insight into the likely level of concern for economic inequality around Dixon’s office.

In Bitcoin, the Valley sees another PayPal and the associated fat exit, but ideally without the annoying costs of policing fraud and handling chargebacks this time around. Bankers in New York and London see opportunities for cryptocurrency market-making. International investors see the potential for arbitrage and are taking advantage of cheap electricity, bringing the environmental destruction of real-world mining to the brave new world of digital money. In other words: Bitcoin represents more of the same short-sighted hypercapitalism that got us into this mess, minus the accountability. No wonder that many of the same culprits are diving eagerly into the mining pool.

Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire By Charlie Stross

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/12/why-i-want-bitcoin-to-die-in-a.html


Bitcoin just crashed 50% .... on news that the Chinese government has banned local exchanges from accepting deposits in Yuan. BtC was trading over $1000 yesterday; now it's down to $500 and still falling. Good. I want Bitcoin to die in a fire: this is a start, but it's not sufficient. Let me give you a round-up below the cut.

Like all currency systems, Bitcoin comes with an implicit political agenda attached. Decisions we take about how to manage money, taxation, and the economy have consequences: by its consequences you may judge a finance system. Our current global system is pretty crap, but I submit that Bitcoin is worst.
For starters, BtC is inherently deflationary. There is an upper limit on the number of bitcoins that can ever be created ('mined', in the jargon: new bitcoins are created by carrying out mathematical operations which become progressively harder as the bitcoin space is explored—like calculating ever-larger prime numbers, they get further apart). This means the the cost of generating new Bitcoins rises over time, so that the value of Bitcoins rise relative to the available goods and services in the market. Less money chasing stuff; less cash for everybody to spend (as the supply of stuff out-grows the supply of money). Hint: Deflation and Inflation are two very different things; in particular, deflation is not the opposite of inflation (although you can't have both deflation and inflation simultaneously—you get one disease or the other).

Bitcoin is designed to be verifiable (forgery-resistant) but pretty much untraceable, and very easy to hide. Easier than a bunch of gold coins, anyway. And easier to ship to the opposite side of the planet at the push of a button. Libertarians love it because it pushes the same buttons as their gold fetish and it doesn't look like a "Fiat currency". You can visualize it as some kind of scarce precious data resource, sort of a digital equivalent of gold. Nation-states don't control the supply of it, so it promises to bypass central banks.

But there are a number of huge down-sides. Here's a link-farm to the high points:

  • Mining BtC has a carbon footprint from hell (as they get more computationally expensive to generate, electricity consumption soars). This essay has some questionable numbers, but the underlying principle is sound.

  • Bitcoin mining software is now being distributed as malware because using someone else's computer to mine BitCoins is easier than buying a farm of your own mining hardware.

  • Bitcoin violates Gresham's law: Stolen electricity will drive out honest mining. (So the greatest benefits accrue to the most ruthless criminals.)

  • Bitcoin's utter lack of regulation permits really hideous markets to emerge, in commodities like assassination (and drugs and child pornography).

  • It's also inherently damaging to the fabric of civil society. You think our wonderful investment bankers aren't paying their fair share of taxes? Bitcoin is pretty much designed for tax evasion. Moreover, The Gini coefficient of the Bitcoin economy is ghastly, and getting worse, to an extent that makes a sub-Saharan African kleptocracy look like a socialist utopia, and the "if this goes on" linear extrapolations imply that BtC will badly damage stable governance, not to mention redistributive taxation systems and social security/pension nets if its value continues to soar (as it seems designed to do due to its deflationary properties).

    To editorialize briefly, BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions. Which is fine if you're a Libertarian, but I tend to take the stance that Libertarianism is like Leninism: a fascinating, internally consistent political theory with some good underlying points that, regrettably, makes prescriptions about how to run human society that can only work if we replace real messy human beings with frictionless spherical humanoids of uniform density (because it relies on simplifying assumptions about human behaviour which are unfortunately wrong).
  • And so, justification for War on Syria is manufactured again...

    Why The US, UK, EU & Israel Want To Destroy Syria By Adrian Salbuchi

    &feature=player_embedded

    TEXT: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36173.htm

    Washington Has Discredited America By Paul Craig Roberts



    ...If only more Americans were aghast! I sometimes wonder whether Americans like being spied upon, because it makes them feel important. “Look at me! I’m so important that the government spends enough money to wipe out US poverty spying on me and my Facebook, et. al., friends. I bet they are spending one billion dollars just to know who I connected with today. I hope it didn’t get lost in all the spam.”

    ....

    Recently, Pat Buchanan, Mr. Conservative himself, made a case that Russia’s Putin better represents traditional American values than does the President of the United States. http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/is-putin-one-of-us/

    Buchanan has a point. It is Washington, not Moscow or Beijing, that threatens to bomb countries into the stone age, that forces down airplanes of heads of state and subjects them to searches, and that refuses to honor grants of political asylum.

    ................


    Washington’s arrogance has brought America disrepute. What damage will Washington next inflict on us?

    Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

    THE MAN KNOWS HOW TO CRAFT A PHRASE!

    Weekend Economists and the Accidental President December 13-15, 2013

    ?1250886356

    Gerald Rudolf Ford, Jr., a man who never dreamed of the White House, yet ended up there, is our topic for this weekend. Who was he, really?

    Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and prior to this, was the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. He was the first person appointed to the Vice Presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, after Spiro Agnew resigned. When he became president upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, he became the first and to date only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected by the Electoral College. Before ascending to the Vice Presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as the Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

    As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford's incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but narrowly lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

    Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ford


    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Gerald_Ford_on_field_at_Univ_of_Mich,_1933.jpg

    they don't make them like that anymore....all around American hero, public citizen, yet a private man. Let's see if we can find out what made President Ford tick.

    If you were born before 1963

    Congratulations!

    You have survived not one, but TWO unlawful overthrows of the Constitutional government of the United States.

    The first coup was on November 22nd, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Despite all official attempts to blame this on a lone, crazed gunman, the public can sense a lie when it hears it. The people know in their hearts that it took a considerable conspiracy to penetrate the security that surrounded the President, even in those primitive years. NSA was only 10 years old at the time. Think about it.

    The consequences of this assassination, besides creating our second Presidential martyr, included Nixon's narrow escape from impeachment and Ford's unconditional pardon for all Nixon's crimes, yet another trauma inflicted on the public to spare it more trauma...

    This event left this country with a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that continues to this day. The blatant attempts to whitewash the coup only inflict further pain. It took 60 years to reveal the ugly truths of WWII. Perhaps in another ten, we will know some facts about Kennedy.

    The second coup was December 9, 2000, when the Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision placed George W. Bush into the White House. There wasn't the slightest attempt to cover up this coup. The consequences were immediate in the form of the attacks on the World Trade Center, which may have been another coup attempt. How we didn't end up under martial law remains a mystery....and a good sign that Dick Cheney hadn't planned it. Never fear. All the preparatory steps have been taken to shut down the country and turn it into a military occupation zone when the next opportunity rolls along.

    This second coup spawned several additional economic attacks on the nation, as the financiers of the multinational banks decided to go for the gold and anything else that wasn't nailed down.

    We must take back our country, this nation, from those who would do it irreparable harm. The struggle will last long past our lifetimes. The end result hangs by a thread--we just don't know which one. If you love your country, get educated, teach others, and vote! Be public and loud. Keep your family as safe as possible, and your communities strongly united against the Big Money.

    The battle goes to the survivors. I charge you all: Survive!
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