Tuesday, June 30, 2015

the rich push N-1 fairy tales because they cost nothing...,

NYTimes |  Christianity is in decline in the United States. The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians and attend church is dropping. Evangelical voters make up a smaller share of the electorate. Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves.

Christianity’s gravest setbacks are in the realm of values. American culture is shifting away from orthodox Christian positions on homosexuality, premarital sex, contraception, out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and a range of other social issues. More and more Christians feel estranged from mainstream culture. They fear they will soon be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage. They fear their colleges will be decertified, their religious institutions will lose their tax-exempt status, their religious liberty will come under greater assault.
The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision landed like some sort of culminating body blow onto this beleaguered climate. Rod Dreher, author of the truly outstanding book “How Dante Can Save Your Life,” wrote an essay in Time in which he argued that it was time for Christians to strategically retreat into their own communities, where they could keep “the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness.”

He continued: “We have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist.”

Most Christian commentary has opted for another strategy: fight on. Several contributors to a symposium in the journal First Things about the court’s Obergefell decision last week called the ruling the Roe v. Wade of marriage. It must be resisted and resisted again. Robert P. George, probably the most brilliant social conservative theorist in the country, argued that just as Lincoln persistently rejected the Dred Scott decision, so “we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation.”

These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.

darpa, synthetic biology, terraforming mars...,

motherboard |  It’s no secret that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing heavily in genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Whether that excites or terrifies you depends on how you feel about the military engineering totally new life forms. If you’re in the excitement camp, however, here’s a nugget for you: DARPA believes that it's on the way to creating organisms capable of terraforming Mars into a planet that looks more like Earth.

The goal of terraforming Mars would be to warm up and potentially thicken its atmosphere by growing green, photosynthesizing plants, bacteria, and algae on the barren Martian surface. It’s a goal that even perpetual techno-optimists like Elon Musk think isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but it’s a goal that DARPA apparently already has its eyes on.

“For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay,” Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s new Biological Technologies Office said Monday at a DARPA-hosted biotech conference. As she said this, Jackson was pointing at an artist's rendering of a terraformed Mars.

So what’s this technological toolkit she’s talking about? For the last year, Jackson’s lab has been working on learning how to more easily genetically engineer organisms of all types, not just e. coli and yeast, which are most commonly used in synthetic biology projects.

“There are anywhere from 30 million to 30 billion organisms on this Earth. We use two right now for engineering biology,” she said. “I want to use any organism that has properties I want—I want to quickly map it and quickly engineer it. If you look at genome annotation software today, it’s not built to quickly find engineer able systems [and genes]. It’s built to look for an esoteric and interesting thing I can publish an academic paper on.”

DARPA and some of its research partners have created software called DTA GView, which Jackson calls the “Google Maps of genomes.” At the conference, she pulled up the genomes of several organisms on the program, which immediately showed a list of known genes and where they were located in the genome. 

“This torrent of genomic data we’re now collecting is awesome, except they sit in databases, where they remain data, not knowledge. Very little genetic information we have is actionable,” she said. “With this, the goal is to, within a day, sequence and find where I can best engineer an organism.”
The goal is to essentially pick and choose the best genes from whatever form of life we want and to edit them into other forms of life to create something entirely new. This will probably first happen in bacteria and other microorganisms, but it sounds as though the goal may to do this with more complex, multicellular organisms in the future.

no sex and status-seeking at the root of ______________?

japantimes |  After years of paying limited attention to academic and media warnings about the declining birthrate, aging population and complaints from the rest of the country about the overconcentration of people and resources in Tokyo, political and corporate leaders in Japan were jolted by the conclusions of a 2014 book by Hiroya Masuda, a former Iwate prefectural governor and head of a government committee on local revitalization.

“Local Extinctions,” Masuda’s detailed report of population changes, used the latest official figures from the government’s National Institution of Population and Social Security Research to show that 896 cities, towns and villages throughout Japan were facing extinction by 2040. At first glance, the book simply repeated what earlier reports had concluded. However, it also included the percentages by which child-bearing women between the ages of 20 and 40 were expected to decline in each and every city, town and village.

The latter figures, in particular, caught the eye of a large number of people, especially politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leaders who were, predominately, elderly men already worried about the declining birthrate. The grim predictions forced everyone, though, to ask old questions with new urgency: As the population shrinks, who will give birth to the next generation of voters? Without new mothers, where will the next generation of taxpayers, business leaders and customers come from? And if too many localities become extinct, what will happen to all of those Tokyo-based firms that rely on the rest of the nation to stay in business?

“Local Extinctions” became a best-seller, and spawned a number of books and magazines on the same issue. All raised fundamental, and yet very practical, questions about the country’s political and social future. Before looking at some of those questions, though, let’s take a look at the position Japan is to be in a quarter century from today, using both Masuda’s book and official government data.

In 2014, the population of Japan was just under 127 million. By 2040, it’s expected to drop to about 107 million and, by 2050, it will be around 97 million.

Monday, June 29, 2015

bad sex and ego at the root of austerity?

telesurtv | Speaking at the largest anti-austerity rally since the Conservatives won the election Brand questioned their ability to rule the country.

Comedian Russell Brand told anti-government protesters in London Saturday that Britain’s problems were caused by megalomaniacal leaders and members of parliaments with poor sex lives.

Speaking at the largest anti-austerity rally since the Conservatives won the election with a majority 44 days ago, attended by between 70,000 and 150,000 people, Brand talked about the “crushing disappointment” many people felt at the result.

He criticized the policies made by establishment figures and questioned their ability to rule the country.

“What I feel like we’ve done is created a culture around the worst aspects of our nature. I have selfishness in me, I have greed in me, I have the megalomaniacal tendencies of Boris Johnsonn, or Rupert Murdoch, or David Cameron, but I don’t turn them into policies. I go to 12-step meetings and psychiatrists to try and deal with that shit,” he told the cheering crowd outside the houses of parliament in Westminster.

“I’m assuming that the vast majority or those (in the houses of parliament), Jeremy (Corbyn) and Caroline (Lucas) aside, are not having very successful sex lives … Something is wrong,” he added

The demonstration comes in response to the recent announcement by Britain's Conservative government that it plans to adopt new measures to reduce the national deficit, including further welfare cuts, cuts to social services, departmental spending cuts and boosting revenue through a crackdown on tax avoidance. The Conservative financial minister, George Osborne, is expected to announce a further £12bn cuts to spending on benefits, according to Sky News.

“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green Party representative in parliament. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on jobseekers’ allowance that brought down the banks.

“It wasn’t nurses and teachers and firefighters who were recklessly gambling on international markets. And so we should stop the policies that are making them pay for a crisis that wasn’t of their making.”

time to repo puerto rico....,

NYTimes |  Puerto Rico’s governor, saying he needs to pull the island out of a “death spiral,” has concluded that the commonwealth cannot pay its roughly $72 billion in debts, an admission that will probably have wide-reaching financial repercussions.

The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.

“The debt is not payable,” Mr. García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.”

It is a startling admission from the governor of an island of 3.6 million people, which has piled on more municipal bond debt per capita than any American state.
A broad restructuring by Puerto Rico sets the stage for an unprecedented test of the United States municipal bond market, which cities and states rely on to pay for their most basic needs, like road construction and public hospitals.

That market has already been shaken by municipal bankruptcies in Detroit; Stockton, Calif.; and elsewhere, which undercut assumptions that local governments in the United States would always pay back their debt.

Puerto Rico’s bonds have a face value roughly eight times that of Detroit’s bonds. Its call for debt relief on such a vast scale could raise borrowing costs for other local governments as investors become more wary of lending.

Perhaps more important, much of Puerto Rico’s debt is widely held by individual investors on the United States mainland, in mutual funds or other investment accounts, and they may not be aware of it.

Puerto Rico, as a commonwealth, does not have the option of bankruptcy. A default on its debts would most likely leave the island, its creditors and its residents in a legal and financial limbo that, like the debt crisis in Greece, could take years to sort out.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

nice business you've got here, be a shame if something happened to it...,

WaPo |  Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) made a fortune as an early wireless industry executive. Now, he's on a tear about the tech industry's most disruptive companies and why politicians — especially presidential candidates — aren't talking more about their impact on the labor economy.

He sees a growing number of sharing-economy companies such as Uber, TaskRabbit and AirBnB transforming employment. About half of all American workers will be freelance or contractual workers by 2020, some economists predict. This trend is upending our notions of what it means to be a worker and what responsibilities a company has to provide benefits like health care and pensions. If unanswered, questions about a national social safety net for contractual workers may end up burdening the whole economy, he warns.

To be clear, Warner isn't proposing federal laws just yet for part-time and contract worker benefits. He's already seeing innovative solutions from tech companies and local governments to address policy concerns. But he's trying to get candidates, policymakers and the biggest companies in Silicon Valley listening -- and says legislation at some point may be the best option.

The following is an interview with Warner, edited for length and clarity.

uber and airbnb are not the villains in this evolutionary struggle...,

guardian |  “Got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks,” tweeted the singer Courtney Love from Charles de Gaulle airport. She was caught up in what is becoming a global trend: the backlash against Uber. French taxi drivers were protesting on Thursday at vehicles operated by drivers working for the Californian business, which functions like a taxi-hire company, but via smartphones and without directly employing its drivers.
The taxi drivers were protesting at seeing their livelihoods threatened: it costs more than €100,000 (£71,000) for a taxi licence in Paris. Uber drivers, though, pay nothing, using their own cars and just paying a proportion of their takings to the company for the rides they pick up. There has been similar anger, though not riots, in New York where taxi licences, called “medallions”, can cost a million dollars. And regulators, courts and police have been raising concerns around the world, too.

It’s been a tough week for Uber. The protests in France, where UberPop (as it is called locally) has been declared illegal yet still operates, came just a week after California’s Labor Commission decided that Uber drivers there were employees, not contractors – a distinction that could impose significant costs and responsibilities. Uber had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Uber’s troubles signal a troubled birth for a 21st-century concept: the sharing economy. In this brave new world, untapped capacity – such as idle cars and rooms – is made available for hire, increases efficiency and lowers the price of those goods and services. 

It is not just Uber that is facing resistance over the sharing phenomenon. Paris is also the scene of another collision between a company from the sharing economy and the authorities: about 2% of all apartment units in the city are available for rent through AirBnB, which connects apartment owners and short-term renters. With 40,000 listings at the start of April, it’s the company’s largest market in Europe, ahead of London with just under 25,000 and Barcelona with 16,600.

collaborative consumption

wikipedia |  A sharing economy takes a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.[1][2] A common premise is that when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.[3]

Collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership.[1]
The collaborative consumption model is used in online marketplaces such as eBay as well as emerging sectors such as social lending, peer-to-peer accommodation, peer-to-peer travel experiences, peer-to-peer task assignments or travel advising, car sharing or commute-bus sharing.[4]

conspicuous consumption

wikipedia |  Conspicuous consumption is the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—either the buyer's income or the buyer's accumulated wealth. Sociologically, to the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means either of attaining or of maintaining a given social status. Consumption is regarded to foster economic benefits, by some accounts.

Moreover, invidious consumption, a more specialized sociologic term, denotes the deliberate conspicuous consumption of goods and services intended to provoke the envy of other people, as a means of displaying the buyer’s superior socio-economic status.

In the 19th century, the term conspicuous consumption was introduced by the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), in the book The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions (1899), to describe the behavioural characteristics of the nouveau riche (new rich) social class who emerged as a result of the accumulation of capital wealth during the Second Industrial Revolution (ca. 1860–1914).[1] In that social and historical context, the term “conspicuous consumption” was narrowly applied to describe the men, women, and families of the upper class who applied their great wealth as a means of publicly manifesting their social power and prestige, be it real or perceived.

In the 20th century, the significant improvement of the material standard of living of a society, and the consequent emergence of the middle class, broadly applied the term “conspicuous consumption” to the men, women, and households who possessed the discretionary income that allowed them to practice the patterns of economic consumption—of goods and services—which were motivated by the desire for prestige, the public display of social status, rather than by the intrinsic, practical utility of the goods and the services proper. In the 1920s, economists, such as Paul Nystrom (1878–1969), proposed that changes in the style of life, made feasible by the economics of the industrial age, had induced to the mass of society a “philosophy of futility” that would increase the consumption of goods and services as a social fashion; an activity done for its own sake. In that context, “conspicuous consumption” is discussed either as a behavioural addiction or as a narcissistic behaviour, or both, which are psychologic conditions induced by consumerism — the desire for the immediate gratification of hedonic expectations.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

what electricity consumption tells us about the state of the u.s. economy...,

zerohedge |  A year ago we wrote about how electricity consumption could provide clues to the performance of the US economy, which generated a lot of interest and comments.

A relationship between the two variables makes sense, but needs to be framed in the proper context. Genuine economic (and population) growth should translate into more electricity consumption, as we have more activity and transactions taking place throughout the economy.

However, factors such as energy efficiency and the weather can muddle this relationship:
  • An increase in efficiency means that the same output can be obtained with less inputs. Therefore, a small-ish reduction in electricity consumption versus a prior period may not necessarily be indicative of a sluggish economy over that time. And we know that this efficiency has been on the rise in recent years (just look at the power rating of your new appliances).
  • Likewise, a warmer winter versus the prior year may also cause a drop in electricity consumption, simply due to home heaters not being used as hard, not necessarily because the economy is doing badly.
So can we adjust electricity consumption to take these factors into consideration and get a better measure of its relationship with economic growth?

We developed an indicator to do just that together with DegreeDays.net, an energy systems data company. We provide a brief technical explanation of our proposed methodology below (for a much better overview please visit this supporting article). Bear with us, the analysis is quite interesting!

what flavor tard will be first to squeal water rationing is communism?

alternet |  Rich people rarely tell you how they really feel about poor people. Occasionally, though, you get a glimpse. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a storyabout Rancho Santa Fe, a small but extremely wealthy enclave in Southern California. Like the rest of California, the people of Rancho Santa Fe are dealing with a drought. As you might imagine, that means water is scarce and conservation is critical. For the denizens of Rancho Santa Fe, however, conservation is someone else’s problem, namely poor people.

According to Steve Yuhas, who lives in the area and hosts a conservative talk-radio show, privileged people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.” Oh, the humanity! In case it wasn’t clear, Yuhas added that the right to water ought to scale with income: “No, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

And Yuhas isn’t alone. Gay Butler, an avid equestrian and fellow resident of Rancho Santa Fe, fumed for similar reasons. “It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” she said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?” Perhaps Butler has a point. It’s one thing to demand sacrifice in extraordinary circumstances, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right? If a woman wants to ride her finely manicured horse on a dirt-free prairie in the middle of the desert, what matters a little drought?

Brett Barbre, a fellow Orange Country aristocrat, also appears to get it. “I call it the war on suburbia,” he remarked. “California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom. It’s slowly becoming the land of one group telling everyone else how they think everybody should live their lives.” Barbre continued: “They’ll have to pry it [his water hose] from my cold, dead hands.”

You may be asking yourself: Do restrictions on water consumption during a historic drought really constitute an all-out assault on human freedom? Fair question. Most of us fail to see this issue in such grand terms. Maybe we’re missing something. Mr. Barbre is either a bold lover of liberty or a detached plutocrat with a penchant for hyperbole. You be the judge.

In any case, I see the decadence of the people in Rancho Santa Fe as a microcosm of America today, particularly corporate America. What these people exhibit, apart from their smugness, is a complete absence of any sense of collective responsibility. They can’t see and aren’t interested in the consequences of their actions. And they can’t muster a modicum of moderation in the face of enormous scarcity. Every resource, every privilege, is theirs to pilfer with impunity. These people are prepared to endanger an entire ecosystem simply to avoid the indignity of brown golf courses; this is what true entitlement looks like.

true evil is a social construction that inspires people to brutal acts in the name of moral order

unh |  In his new book, Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History, Frankfurter investigates the social and psychological patterns that have given rise to myths of witches, demons, satanic cults, and cannibalism throughout history. According to Frankfurter, evil does not exist as an entity beyond the realm of human understanding, but instead manifests as an unsettling public discourse created by folklore, cultural ideas, literature, and oral traditions.

The first work to provide an in-depth analysis of the topic, the book draws upon the history of religion, anthropology, sociology and psychoanalytic theory to probe the myriad ways people imagine evil, how they treat those who are deemed evil and the factors that give rise to panic about witches or evil cults.

“People have been obsessed by evil for centuries—obsessed with what evil is, who is evil, and how to avoid evil—and the 21st century is no exception. President Bush famously dubbed Iran, North Korea, and Iraq the Axis of Evil in his 2002 State of the Union address. In casual conversation and media stories alike, terrorists, politicians and criminals are labeled evil. With all these accepted references to evil, it is time that its true nature is exposed and thoroughly examined,” Frankfurter says.

According to Frankfurter, linking terrorism and evil shifts the view of the terrorist “from a concrete mass-killer with a biography, distinct motivations, and specific goals, to a shadowy opponent of family and society in heartland America. And terrorism, of course, is the evil force that will stay outside as long as we conduct large-scale military exploits off in the distant lands we associate with it.”

In many ways, the term terrorism and its close association with the concept of evil conjures meanings and responses similar to the terms witchcraft, devil-worshipper, and commie. And that, Frankfurter says, should be of concern to many.

“We become lost in these large-scale terms for evil, invoking them for every anxiety, every criminal suspect, every political maneuver,” he says. “Those who have become wed to large-scale schemes of danger and conspiracy have sought to root it out by any means necessary.”

People imagine evil in many ways. In its most basic form, evil for many takes on the likeness of demonic spirits: half-animal, monstrous, overly sexual or cannibal. However, often people have imagined evil as actual people: foreigners, especially those nearby, or members of strange religions that we imagine ritually abusing or eating children and women.

“Imagining evil people and demons and witches is also exciting: we think about all the outrageous things they do with a kind of prurience,” Frankfurter says.

So how do certain people or groups become labeled as evil? According to Frankfurter, the major factor is the arrival of "experts in the discernment of evil" -- witch-finders or experts in satanic ritual abuse or cults who bring a broad and intensified concept of evil to a community already anxious about misfortune, subversion, enemies, foreigners, cults and demons.

“But more broadly, we find these panics especially in cultures that are experiencing a kind of tension between their familiar worlds of neighbors, spirits, demons, evil eye, and bad luck, and a larger world of institutions (churches, child protective services, presidents and law enforcement). What happens is that the small community begins to feel that its familiar problems must now be understood in terms of the large-scale evil,” Frankfurter says.

For those deemed evil, often the public response is to take drastic measures to cleanse them from the landscape. “One imagines the view of Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda, the view of Jews in 1939 Germany (and often in European history), and the view of Christians in second-century Rome. They represent predators, obstacles to safety and success,” Frankfurter says.

When society labels people as evil, it places them outside humanity where others don't have to think about motivations or context in any critical way. “Use of this label amounts to intellectual laziness and has led, consistently, to the worst atrocities we know about. Speaking of ‘evil’ leads people to evil,” Frankfurter says.

And according to the professor, people are thinking more about evil today. “We see and hear about so many horrible atrocities and crimes, yet are constantly presented with contexts and backgrounds and ways of understanding how they could happen. For many people, especially people of evangelical Christian bent, to label something or somebody evil has a refreshing clarity to it,” he says.
This clarity provides an easier concept for understanding evil than thinking about the complex motivations of a person or a group. Thinking about evil is also exciting, Frankfurter says, offering a kind of license to think about sexual perversions and brutality we couldn’t otherwise let ourselves imagine.

Friday, June 26, 2015

globe's most egregious gluttons attempt transition

theatlantic | Saudi Arabia produces much of its electricity by burning oil, a practice that most countries abandoned long ago, reasoning that they could use coal and natural gas instead and save oil for transportation, an application for which there is no mainstream alternative. Most of Saudi Arabia’s power plants are colossally inefficient, as are its air conditioners, which consumed 70 percent of the kingdom’s electricity in 2013. Although the kingdom has just 30 million people, it is the world’s sixth-largest consumer of oil.

Now, Saudi rulers say, things must change. Their motivation isn’t concern about global warming; the last thing they want is an end to the fossil-fuel era. Quite the contrary: they see investing in solar energy as a way to remain a global oil power.

The Saudis burn about a quarter of the oil they produce—and their domestic consumption has been rising at an alarming 7 percent a year, nearly three times the rate of population growth. According to a widely read December 2011 report by Chatham House, a British think tank, if this trend continues, domestic consumption could eat into Saudi oil exports by 2021 and render the kingdom a net oil importer by 2038.

That outcome would be cataclysmic for Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s political stability has long rested on the “ruling bargain,” whereby the royal family provides citizens, who pay no personal income taxes, with extensive social services funded by oil exports. Left unchecked, domestic consumption could also limit the nation’s ability to moderate global oil prices through its swing reserve—the extra petroleum it can pump to meet spikes in global demand. If Saudi rulers want to maintain control at home and preserve their power on the world stage, they must find a way to use less oil.

Solar, they have decided, is an obvious alternative. In addition to having some of the world’s richest oil fields, Saudi Arabia also has some of the world’s most intense sunlight. (On a map showing levels of solar radiation, with the sunniest areas colored deep red, the kingdom is as blood-red as a raw steak.) Saudi Arabia also has vast expanses of open desert seemingly tailor-made for solar-panel arrays.

Solar-energy prices have fallen by about 80 percent in the past few years, due to a rapid increase in the number of Chinese factories cranking out inexpensive solar panels, more-efficient solar technology, and mounting interest by large investors in bankrolling solar projects. Three years ago, Saudi Arabia announced a goal of building, by 2032, 41 gigawatts of solar capacity, slightly more than the world leader, Germany, has today. According to one estimate, that would be enough to meet about 20 percent of the kingdom’s projected electricity needs—an aggressive target, given that solar today supplies virtually none of Saudi Arabia’s energy and, as of 2012, less than 1 percent of the world’s.

super majors eager to get between the sheets with iran

HuffPo |  Western companies including Shell and BP have already shown interest to re-enter Iran's oil market as soon as a final nuclear deal is reached and issues of economic and banking hurdles are resolved.

After several decades, this is the first time that Western super-major oil and gas corporations are openly and publicly expressing their interest to access Iran which enjoys the world's second-largest natural-gas and fourth-biggest oil reserves.

Iranian leaders will attempt to use the short term nuclear deal as a platform to seal long term oil contracts, which will institutionalize the profits for many years to come. This will make it more difficult for sanctions to snap back in case Iran defied the terms of nuclear deal. Iran's oil ministry is looking for roughly $200 billion investment in order to revive and rehabilitate its oil industry. Iran has been publicizing and circulating its oil and business contracts. As Zanganeh stated, the new contracts are "long-term, with better situations, rather than the previous framework that we have."

In closing, unprecedentedly, both Western oil and gas companies and Iran hardliners are openly expressing interest in cooperating with each other, as Iran will gain legitimacy from the final nuclear deal.

This suggests two crucial issues. First of all, OPEC members ought to be prepared and chart ways for Iran's full return to the oil market. As an Iranian delegate pointed out "Iran is telling other OPEC members to get ready for its return". Iran is planning to boost exports by one million barrels a day after sanction are lifted. Currently, Iran's oil production is roughly 2.7 million barrels a day and it oil exports is approximately 1 million barrels a day. Secondly, the international community. and particularly the US, needs to have a strategy pre-planned for Iran's economic return, which will boost Tehran's geopolitics and the IRGC's influence in the region. So far, the Obama administration does not appear to have any particular strategy to rein Iran's economic return.

transition, conversion, musical chairs among hegemons...,

bloomberg |  Not content with the blow it’s dealt to U.S. oil drillers, Saudi Arabia is set to escalate the battle for market share by raising production to maximum levels.

The world’s largest oil exporter has already increased output to a 30-year high of 10.3 million barrels a day in a bid to check growth from nations including the U.S., Canada and Brazil. It will add even more to the global glut, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Citigroup Inc. predicts the kingdom will push toward its maximum daily capacity, which the bank estimates at about 11 million barrels, in the second half of 2015.

Saudi Arabia steered the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in November to protect its market share in the face of swelling U.S. crude output, rather than cut supplies to shore up prices as it did in the past. Having abandoned the role of swing supplier -- adjusting production in line with demand -- the kingdom will maximize sales to increase pressure on producers outside the group, the banks said.

“If you are Saudi Arabia and you’re looking at the new oil order we live in, you would go to full capacity,” Jeff Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs in New York, said by e-mail on June 15. “The world has come around to the realization that the U.S. shale barrel is the swing barrel.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

the mantra, white genocide and N-1 racetard terrorism as self-defense

theatlantic |  “It’s no longer OK to be an open racist and an anti-Semite,” she said. Instead, many members of these groups have adopted a claim first popularized by Robert Whitaker, an elderly segregationist from South Carolina, who in 2006 posted on his website a warning about “the third world pour[ing] into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.” The tract, known as The Mantra, helped promote the term “White Genocide,” which has since become a watchword among white supremacists for immigration and fertility trends that could lead to whites losing their majority status in U.S. and European populations in the coming decades. Beirich said it’s less that there is a coordinated global white-supremacist movement than that the rhetoric its adherents use has congealed around an issue that many “white countries” are perceived to be facing.

And that rhetoric is distinctly international in scope. Whitaker’s mantra suggests the existence of a double standard, in which whites are denied privileges that others enjoy—“ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY.” It claims that only whites are being forced to accept “multiculturalism.” A petition to the White House posted last month, calling on the Obama administration to “stop White Genocide in our country!”, encourages the president to turn to Liberia, of all places, for lessons on racial purity. It quotes approvingly from the Liberian constitution of 1986, which says that “in order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negro or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.”

A group called the White Genocide Project, which drew notice earlier this year for posting billboards in Alabama displaying Mantra quotes such as “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White,” cites international law to establish the existence of white genocide, specifically Article II, subsection (c) of the United Nations Genocide Convention. The definition of genocide offered there includes “deliberately inflicting on the group”—which can be a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group”—“conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Under that definition, the White Genocide Project’s website states that a “combination of mass immigration (of different groups of people) plus forced assimilation would qualify as genocide.” The authors compare the trend to Han Chinese migration into Tibet—which Tibetans have complained dilutes their culture—with the only difference being that “White Genocide is taking place across many countries, and it is being done to the majority, rather than a minority.”

exploring the N-1 racetardism in which BD (and other lastrhodesians) center their life and thoughts...,

theapricity |  The present book is a textbook designed for the use of college students who have had or are taking a preliminary course in anthropology. Enough of it is, however, written in a non-technical way, so that students of allied disciplines may use it for reference. The subject matter to be studied consists of the body of statistical material collected by the world's physical anthropologists which concern the somatic character of peoples belonging to the white race. This material may be divided into (A), skeletons; and (B), metrical data and observations on the living..

By the use of this material we propose to follow the history of the white race from its Pleistocene1 beginnings to the present, and to provide a classification of sub-races which will be fully in accord with the facts as we now know them. We submit the thesis that man, as a domestic animal, is extremely variable; and that he has subjected himself, in his wanderings, to all of the environments of the earth, and hence is subject to environmental modification in a way unequalled by any other species. We further suggest that man, through his development of human cultures, has modi-fled his bodily form by his own devices.

During the Pleistocene period there were several species of primates which had attained some degree of human culture, by the acquisition of stone implements, of fire, and of speech. In the present post-glacial or interglacial period, in conformity with the general reduction in faunal varieties, man has been reduced to a single species, unique in a single genus. During the Pleistocene one species, at least, had developed in the manner of a foetalized terrestrial ape, and it is that species which carries today the main stem of Homo sapiens. Other species, including the fossil men of Java, of Peking, and Homo neanderthalensis, had developed at the same time into a heavier, hypermasculine endocrine form, with a luxuriance of jaws, teeth, and bony crests.

We propose to demonstrate that these non-foetalized species did not wholly die out, but that at least one of them was absorbed into the main human stem, at some time during the Middle, or the initial part of the Late, Pleistocene. From this amalgamation was produced the large, rugged, and relatively un-foetalized group of Upper Palaeolithic men in Europe, North Africa, and northern Asia. This type of man passed over Bering Straits in early post-glacial times, if not earlier, to provide the basic ge-netic stock from which the American Indian developed, in combination with later arrivals. From a branch of this hyperborean group there evolved, in northern Asia, the ancestral strain of the entire specialized mongoloid family.

We suggest that the ancestors of the whites in their major form developed during pluvial periods of the Pleistocene in parts of what is now the arid zone reaching from the Sahara to northern India; that in post-glacial times many were forced out of these homes by desiccation, and that some of them originated agriculture and animal husbandry in northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia. From these centers agricultural pioneers followed post-glacial zones of climate into Europe, gradually encroaching upon the lands formerly glaciated. In most of the regions which they occupied they greatly outnumbered the descendants of the hunters and fishers whose ancestors had clung on since glacial times, and many of whom had followed the retreating ice toward its last melting nuclei.

The occupation of all arable lands, and those suitable for grazing, was not completed in a century. or in a millennium; the process was a gradual one, and the withdrawal of the earlier inhabitants into environmentally protected fastnesses equally gradual. The entry of food-producers from Asia and Africa did not take a single route or involve a single people; it was a complex sequence of migrations through several ports of entry. The various strains of food-producers mixed with the food-gatherers whom they encountered, and with each other, until, in our own time, not a single group of complete food-gatherers has remained in white man's territory.

The food-producers seem to have been variants on one central racial theme, the basic Mediterranean. This basic Mediterranean stock varied in many respects, especially in stature and in pigmentation, but in its essential qualities, which segregated it from non-whites, it was remarkably uniform. We do not know that the survivors of the food-gatherers whom the Mediterranean food-producers absorbed were white in soft-part morphology, and there is some evidence that some had begun to evolve in a mongoloid, others perhaps in a negroid, direction. Such variations may be seen within the present composite white racial amalgam.

At any rate, the main conclusion of this study will be that the present races of Europe are derived from a blend of (A), food-producing peoples from Asia and Africa, of basically Mediterranean racial form, with (B), the descendants of interglacial and glacial food-gatherers, produced in turn by a blending of basic Homo sapiens, related to the remote ancestor of the Mediterraneans, with some non-sapiens species of general Neanderthaloid form. The actions and interactions of environment, selection, migration, and human culture upon the various entities within this amalgam, have produced the white race in its present complexity.

In view of these circumstances, the exact classification of living whites into sub-races, such as Nordics, Alpines, Dinaric, and so on, need not be made at this point, but can await (A) the historical study of the white race which will follow in Chapters II to VII; and (B) the survey of the living as a whole which will be made in Chapter VIII. In Chapters IX m XII, inclusive, we will make a more detailed regional survey of the living peoples of Europe to supplement the preceding sections.

fact-resistant canonical BD'ism the root of most domestic terrorism

NYTimes |  In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case.

But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.

Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University. Fist tap John.

fact-resistant deuterostems face some facts...,

newyorker |  Criminal-justice reformers like to say that if a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has served time. Nolan did not emerge from prison any less conservative, but he says he experienced a profound disillusionment, which has led him to play a central role in a cause that is only now finding its moment. These days, it is hard to ignore a rising conservative clamor to rehabilitate the criminal-justice system. Conservatives are as quick as liberals to note that the United States, a country with less than five per cent of the world’s population, houses nearly twenty-five per cent of the world’s prisoners. Some 2.2 million Americans are now incarcerated—about triple the number locked up in the nineteen-eighties, when, in a panic over drugs and urban crime, conservative legislators demanded tougher policies, and liberals who feared being portrayed as weak went along with them. African-Americans are nearly six times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, and Latinos are more than twice as likely. More than forty per cent of released offenders return to prison within three years.

Several Republican Presidential candidates—Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz—have been embraced by Right on Crime, a campaign to promote “successful, conservative solutions” to the punitive excesses of American law and order. In February, the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, which serves as an audition for right-wing Presidential aspirants, featured three panels on criminal-justice reform, including one called Prosecutors Gone Wild. Bernard Kerik, who was Rudolph Giuliani’s police commissioner and served three years in prison for tax fraud and other crimes, now promotes an agenda of reforms, including voting rights for ex-felons. The libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch are donating money to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to help insure that indigent defendants get competent legal representation, and they are co-sponsoring conferences on judicial reform with the American Civil Liberties Union.

In Congress and the states, conservatives and liberals have found common ground on such issues as cutting back mandatory-minimum sentences; using probation, treatment, and community service as alternatives to prison for low-level crimes; raising the age of juvenile-court jurisdictions; limiting solitary confinement; curtailing the practice of confiscating assets; rewriting the rules of probation and parole to avoid sending offenders back to jail on technicalities; restoring education and job training in prisons; allowing prisoners time off for rehabilitation; and easing the reëntry of those who have served time by expunging some criminal records and by lowering barriers to employment, education, and housing. As David Dagan and Steven M. Teles write, in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, “Retrenching the carceral state is becoming as orthodox on the Right as building it was just a few short years ago.” They conclude that this has created a “Nixon goes to China” opportunity to reverse decades of overkill.

This conservative transformation is often portrayed in the media as a novelty, and some progressives regard it as a ploy to cut taxes and turn prisons over to the private corrections industry. Yet it has deep roots and a tangle of motives, one of which is indeed a belief that downsizing prisons promises taxpayers some relief. (Locking up an inmate for a year can cost as much as tuition at a good college.) But for many conservatives, Nolan says, reducing spending is “ancillary.” “It’s human dignity that really motivates us.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

the worship of markets and the acceptance of greed are moral problems..,

WaPo |  “Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature.” 

The pope condemns the current global economy “where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked.” 

Wall Street comes under particular criticism: “Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated.” As a result, “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of the deified market, which become the only rule.” 

For Pope Francis, the market and the economy must be bound by rules that serve “basic and inalienable rights.” At the center of these is work: “We were created with a vocation to work.” Work is the setting for “rich personal growth . . . creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values . . . giving glory to God.” Therefore, priority should be given to “the goal of access to steady employment for everyone, no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.” 

But instead of the common good, we have constructed an economy built on private interest and unrestrained appetite, an economy that excludes the poorest and most vulnerable. For Pope Francis, “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” derive from the same distorted global market economy.
Pope Francis is seeking a far more profound change: economic policy grounded in moral values, measured not by how much money the few make but the respect accorded the rights of all and the health of the environment. Conservatives say he should stick to theology. But he already is sticking to theology, understanding that the worship of markets and the acceptance of unrestrained appetites are moral problems, not technical ones. If this statement on climate is most welcome, his teachings on the economy offer a critique necessary to finding the way out of these problems.

the crash of 2015 - on track, behind schedule...,

dailyimpact |  The dominoes are toppling, just as we have been expecting for nearly a year now, but slower than we thought. The fact-resistant strain of humans (Thank you, Borowitz Report) now in charge of the world are trying to use vast amounts of money to counteract gravity, and, counterintuitively, succeeded in slowing the dominoes’ fall. But not for long.

To review our expectations of last summer: the hideous decline rate of fracking wells (of up to 90% in three years) was forcing frackers to borrow huge amounts of money to put up large numbers of new wells at a breakneck pace in order to preserve the illusion (it was always an illusion) of a revolution in American oil leading to prosperity and “energy independence.” On average, it cost the frackers over $4 to get $1 of revenue in the door during the first quarter of this year. A year ago, with oil commanding $100 a barrel, they were still spending $2. As the old joke goes, the only way to make any money when you’re losing on every transaction is to make up for it with volume. But since most of the money spent was capital expenditure — i.e. new wells — their operating statements showed profits and nobody looked at the balance sheets.

We ran this scenario on our abacus and concluded that these guys were going to go broke. And that when they did, not only would U.S. oil production resume its long slide toward zero, begun in 1970, but they would blow up the junk-bond market, almost certainly the bond market, and probably the stock market. These expectations were in place before the price of oil tanked last fall, and set the expectations in concrete.

Now, let’s review the state of play:

why have the fact-resistant deuterostems taken aim at poor women?

NYTimes |  One would imagine that congressional Republicans, almost all of whom are on record as adamantly opposing abortion, would be eager to fund programs that help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

That would be the common sense approach, anyway.

And yet since they took over the House in 2011, Republicans have been trying to obliterate the highly effective federal family-planning program known as Title X, which gives millions of lower-income and rural women access to contraception, counseling, lifesaving cancer screenings, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

They tried and failed in 2011, when the Senate was under Democratic control — although they still managed to extract significant cuts from an already underfunded program. Now that Republicans run the show, opponents of sensible and effective family planning are back to kill it off for good. Last Tuesday, a House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services proposed to eliminate all Title X funding — about $300 million — from a 2016 spending bill.

The bill would also slash funding by up to 90 percent for sex education, specifically President Obama’s teen-pregnancy prevention initiative. The only winner was abstinence-only education, whose funding the subcommittee voted to double, despite the fact that it has basically no effect on abstinence and has been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Title X, which was enacted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress in 1970, is caught up once again in the nation’s abortion wars — even though like all federal programs, it is barred from providing any funding for abortions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

oily pharisees and saducees continue their assault on laudato si

NYTimes |  Hardest to accept, though, is the moral premise implied throughout the encyclical: that the only legitimate human relationships are based on compassion, harmony and love, and that arrangements based on self-interest and competition are inherently destructive.

The pope has a section on work in the encyclical. The section’s heroes are St. Francis of Assisi and monks — emblems of selfless love who seek to return, the pope says, to a state of “original innocence.”

He is relentlessly negative, on the other hand, when describing institutions in which people compete for political power or economic gain. At one point he links self-interest with violence. He comes out against technological advances that will improve productivity by replacing human work. He specifically condemns market-based mechanisms to solve environmental problems, even though these cap-and-trade programs are up and running in places like California.

Moral realists, including Catholic ones, should be able to worship and emulate a God of perfect love and still appreciate systems, like democracy and capitalism, that harness self-interest. But Francis doesn’t seem to have practical strategies for a fallen world. He neglects the obvious truth that the qualities that do harm can often, when carefully directed, do enormous good. Within marriage, lust can lead to childbearing. Within a regulated market, greed can lead to entrepreneurship and economic innovation. Within a constitution, the desire for fame can lead to political greatness.

You would never know from the encyclical that we are living through the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. A raw and rugged capitalism in Asia has led, ironically, to a great expansion of the middle class and great gains in human dignity.

You would never know that in many parts of the world, like the United States, the rivers and skies are getting cleaner. The race for riches, ironically, produces the wealth that can be used to clean the environment.

A few years ago, a team of researchers led by Daniel Esty of Yale looked at the environmental health of 150 countries. The nations with higher income per capita had better environmental ratings. As countries get richer they invest to tackle environmental problems that directly kill human beings (though they don’t necessarily tackle problems that despoil the natural commons).

You would never suspect, from this encyclical, that over the last decade, one of the most castigated industries has, ironically, produced some of the most important economic and environmental gains. I’m talking of course about fracking.

There was recently a vogue for polemical antifracking documentaries like “Gasland” that purport to show that fracking is causing flammable tap water and other horrors.

mccain promises to supply oil and gas to ukraine while shale industry gets swallowed by its own debt...,

bloomberg |  The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing.

Drillers are devoting more revenue than ever to interest payments. In one example, Continental Resources Inc., the company credited with making North Dakota’s Bakken Shale one of the biggest oil-producing regions in the world, spent almost as much as Exxon Mobil Corp., a company 20 times its size.

The burden is becoming heavier after oil prices fell 43 percent in the past year. Interest payments are eating up more than 10 percent of revenue for 27 of the 62 drillers in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Exploration and Production Index, up from a dozen a year ago. Drillers’ debt ballooned to $235 billion at the end of the first quarter, a 16 percent increase in the past year, even as revenue shrank.

“The question is, how long do they have that they can get away with this,” said Thomas Watters, an oil and gas credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. The companies with the lowest credit ratings “are in survival mode,” he said.

The problem for shale drillers is that they’ve consistently spent money faster than they’ve made it, even when oil was $100 a barrel. The companies in the Bloomberg index spent $4.15 for every dollar earned selling oil and gas in the first quarter, up from $2.25 a year earlier, while pushing U.S. oil production to the highest in more than 30 years.

“There’s a liquidity issue, and you start looking at the cash burn,” Watters said.

Mccain promising things the U.S. flatly doesn't have....,

Monday, June 22, 2015

charleston attack was terrorism, straight up simple and plain...,


theatlantic |  By demanding that the Charleston church attack be dubbed terrorism even before key details were known, observers meant to assert some mix of other claims, including that even the earliest details of the attack very strongly suggested that it was rooted in racial hatred against blacks and white-supremacism; that the killer acted every bit as abhorrently as, say, the men who attacked the Boston marathon; that the black lives lost to this and other acts of white supremacist terrorism matter every bit as much as the lives lost on, say, September 11, 2001; that the press, the police, and politicians would’ve responded differently to this attack had it been perpetrated by a Muslim gunman; or that Charleston warrants a response in keeping with what follows attacks by Muslim terrorists.

Years ago, after an attack on a Sikh temple that’s mostly forgotten because it wasn't regarded as terrorism, I argued that the reluctance to apply the label to acts carried out by white people is partly due to an awareness of what might happen next. When terrorism is invoked, many Americans––Republicans especially––have assented to indefinite detention; the criminalization of gifts to certain charities; secret, extrajudicial assassinations; ethnicity-based surveillance; and the torture even of people who might know about a future attack. Having undermined so many civil-liberties protections in pursuit of terrorists, the white majority and Republicans especially are alarmed at the idea of the homeland-security bureaucracy treating them as they’ve treated Muslim Americans.

priests hold pope infallible on reproductive rights, on the environment - not so much....,

NYTimes |  On the first Sunday after Pope Francis issued a landmark document on the environment, Roman Catholics attending Mass in Kenya, France, Mexico, Peru and the United States said they were thankful that he was using his pulpit to address climate change, pollution and global inequality.

But few priests or bishops — other than in parts of Latin America — used their own pulpits on Sunday to pass on the pope’s message, according to parish visits, interviews with Catholic leaders and reports from Catholics after Mass. Despite the urgent call to action in Francis’ document and the international attention it received, it will take some time to know whether Catholic clergy are familiar or comfortable enough with its themes to preach them to the faithful.

It traditionally takes months for papal teaching documents, known as encyclicals, to be read, understood and disseminated. And this one, “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You: On Care for Our Common Home,” is long, nearly 200 pages, and intricately weaves spiritual and moral teachings with economic, scientific and political analysis. It includes a forceful denunciation of a global economic system that the pope says plunders the resources of the poor for the benefit of the rich, leaving the poor to disproportionately suffer the consequences, including the effects of climate change.

“There has not been that much awareness among parish priests of climate change,” said the Rev. Aris Sison, a spokesman for the Diocese of Cubao in Manila, the Philippines capital. “The Holy Father has now made a clear connection between the environment and morality. He has given us a whole new way of thinking about the environment.”