In order to become a US citizen, immigrants must pass the Naturalization Test. American citizenship bestows the right to vote, improves the likelihood of family members living in other countries to come and live in the US, gives eligibility for federal jobs, and can be a way to demonstrate loyalty to the US. Applicants must get 6 answers out of 10 in an oral exam to pass the test. According to US Citizenship and Immigration services, 92 percent of applicants pass this test.
Generating 920 ad views is a pretty good introduction to being a U.S. Citizen.
Imagine for a second that, at the height of the Cold War, someone had told you of a future in which the US faced no great armed power (not one) and at most a few thousand terrorists scattered across the planet, as well as modestly armed minority insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine that person making this prediction as well: in budget and size, the National Security Complex of that moment would put its Cold War predecessor in the shade.
Without a doubt, you would have dismissed him as a madman. If someone had proposed such a future to those running the Cold War back then, they would have called it victory. And yet that’s exactly our reality today, while victory itself has become the rarest of vintages, no longer stocked anywhere in our American world.
The dimensions of the National Security Complex now beggar the imagination. In fact, everything about it should make it the global yardstick for “too big to fail”. The Pentagon budget is, for instance, about 50 per cent higher today than the Cold War average and accounts for nearly half of all military expenditures globally. And yet it has kept right on growing; and if bailed-out bankers continue to take home their bonuses as thanks for practically sinking the country, top Pentagon types continue to take home their golden pensions with future revolving-door opportunities in the military-industrial complex always available.
If you really want to grasp the enormity of the National Security Complex, just consider this stat: today, 4.2 million federal workers and employees of private contractors have security clearances – about, that is, the population of New Zealand or Lebanon.
Your taxes regularly bail out the Complex. You ensure its wellbeing, and no one even bothers to give you an explanation. In 2008, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes did the numbers and offered a “conservative” estimate of the ultimate costs of the Iraq War: $3tn. Now that Washington increasingly looks like it is giving up hope of keeping any significant number of troops stationed in Iraq, you might ask just what that phenomenal sum bought Americans. But no answer will be forthcoming. On Iraq, mum’s the word, nor will anyone in Washington be held accountable.
Oh, and don’t bother to ask, because no one who matters thinks you need to know. Meanwhile, talking about golden parachutes, the president who took us into Iraq and kept us there is overseeing the creation of a library named after him and by last accounting had already raked in $15m on the lecture circuit at $100,000 to $150,000 a pop; the vice president, who was a key player in the decision to invade and the war that followed, took home more than $2m for his bestselling memoir; the national security adviser, who offered her keenest advice to the president on the subject of Iraq, garnered a guaranteed $2.5m on a three-book contract and now charges up to $150,000 an appearance for speaking engagements, while settling into posts at Stanford University and the Hoover Institute; and the secretary of state who went to the UN to infamously defend the coming invasion with a pack of lies has pulled in a similar $150,000 ($5,000 a minute) for his lectures – and those are just the first few names on a far longer list.
By the way, in case you think it’s over in Iraq, think again. Washington’s stimulus bill for that country is still in effect. Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren writes at the Huffington Post that the State Department is now asking Congress for $5bn over five years to create jobs for police officers – Iraqi police officers, that is.
When a country spends “more on defence than the next 17 top-spending countries combined” and can’t win a war, you should know that something’s wrong, and that “too big” and “fail” do stand in some relation to each other. Washington, however, doesn’t.
The only problem: unless you’re inside that Complex or involved in making weapons or other equipment for it, it’s not your payday, just your payout. You, the taxpayer, bailed out AIG, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and a host of other tottering financial firms. You saved their skins and their bonuses (and got nothing in return). The only bright spot: those were one-time, two-time, or three-time deals.
The Complex is forever (at least as its managers see it). Despite modest rumblings in Washington about the Pentagon and intelligence budgets and the deficit, it’s not just considered too big to fail, but generally too big to question, and too deeply embedded to think much about.
No wonder TARPing war has become a Washington pastime.
Spiritually and philosophically, the Quaker organization devoted to peace and social justice feels a natural solidarity with the hundreds of protesters camping out at City Hall.
Which is nice.
But it is on a more fundamental level – way down at the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – that the committee has reached out to the high-minded masses.
It’s letting them use the bathrooms.
For 150 years, the Quakers’ venerable headquarters in a brick building at 15th and Cherry has opened its doors to people engaged in peaceful protest, said Patricia McBee, executive director of the Friends Center. "Women’s suffrage meetings were held here, protesters involved in the antislavery movement and in the antiwar movement during Vietnam," she said. "We don’t know how long this will be an occupation, but we will continue to support them as long as we can."
I rant a lot about religion on this weblog – so it’s refreshing to show a good side every now and then…
A Houston area law enforcement agency is prepared to launch an unmanned drone that could someday carry weapons, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Conroe paid $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money and Friday it received the ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries of Spring.
Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units.
He said they are designed to carry weapons for local law enforcement.
“The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems,” he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a “stun baton.”
“You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect,” he said.
Gage said he has no immediate plans to outfit his drone with weapons, and he also ruled out using the chopper for catching speeders.
Well, I feel safer already.
A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.
So they’re demanding the right to be corrupt, and they’re using that slogan? Yeah, yeah, I know, the printer was only following orders.
What could possibly go wrong…
“To serve the rich and protect our friends.”
Qantas has grounded its entire fleet and is locking out its staff in response to unions’ industrial action.
The airline is fighting with its pilots, ground staff and engineers over pay, conditions and the outsourcing of jobs overseas.
In a shock move, Qantas boss Alan Joyce announced today all domestic employees involved with the dispute will be locked out as of 8pm (AEDT) Monday, but the fleet would be grounded immediately.
What isn’t helping is that Joyce recently gave himself a $2 million raise.
Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real
No, not really. Because if the rest of the answer to the petition was real, you’d immediately make alcohol and tobacco illegal.
For example, how can you say, with dry eyes, that “marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions” and two paragraphs later that “we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment”
Ever heard of “self-fulfilling prophecies”?
Oh, and read the response to the “Under God” petition as well. So it’s official, whitehouse.gov petitions are nothing but mental masturbation. Pricks pretending to care.
“I’m all for leaking when it’s organized.”
– Bill Daley, White House chief of staff
"The ship of state, Bernard, is the only ship that leaks from the top."
I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.
What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.
On Tuesday, the aerospace industry put out a report saying that chopping the defense budget would put over a million Americans out of work. Cuts that could total up to a trillion dollars over 10 years would “devastate the economy and the defense industrial base and undermine the national security of our country,” said Marion Blakeley, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, which sponsored the report.
But while Blakeley’s group paid for research to draw that dire conclusion, some of her members reported a sunnier economic outlook to their shareholders. In its third-quarter earnings report, also released Tuesday, Lockheed – manufacturers of the F-22 and F-35 jets — told investors to expect that as long as Congress passes President Obama’s next defense budget, ”the Corporation expects 2012 net sales to be flattish as compared to 2011 levels, and that consolidated 2012 segment operating profit margin will remain at approximately 11 percent.” Boom: another $700 million in earnings, on its way.
In more on the mainstream media’s bizarre coverage of Tuesday night’s police brutality in Oakland, a number of blogs have commented on this — both ABC and CBS local affiliates had helicopters providing live feeds as events unfolded in front of Oakland’s City Hall. Allegedly, both television channels cut their transmissions when the police began attacking protesters, and both said it was due to their helicopters’ needing refueling. That’s right — both the ABC and CBS helicopters ran out of fuel at the same moment. The moment when the newsworthy events began to occur. One can only say, wow.
There’s been a lot of talk about Apple creating a TV set.
I didn’t take that seriously, until now.
For all the security improvements at airports after 9/11 — full-body scans, bans on liquids, pat downs — there is one check that airports aren’t doing.
Bags checked at airline counters are scanned for possible explosives but not for loaded guns.
The potential loophole became apparent over the weekend at Los Angeles International Airport, when an undeclared, loaded .38-caliber handgun went undetected from the airport and almost onto an Alaska Airlines flight to Portland. It was discovered by ramp workers, who said the gun fell out of a duffel bag as they were about to load it on the plane.
At first, the incident appeared to a be a breakdown of LAX’s extensive weapons detection system.
But Transportation Security Administration officials said they are not required to screen for loaded weapons in checked luggage, only in carry-on luggage. TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the duffel bag in question went through an explosives scanner, as do all checked bags. It did not generate an alert.
The directors of Britain’s largest companies were last night condemned as "elite greedy pigs" for pocketing a 49 per cent pay rise in the past year, while average workers failed even to keep up with inflation.
Unions exploded with fury after the publication of figures that showed how boardroom pay soared in the last financial year, thanks to rising salaries, bonuses and in particular the swelling value of directors’ long-term share plans. The statistics, compiled by Incomes Data Services, provide an annual snapshot of executive remuneration, as reported in companies’ most recent reports to shareholders, and show that the chief executives of the FTSE 100 largest companies earned an average of £3,855,172 last year. That is an average 43 per cent rise and, adding in other directors, total earnings rose by an average 49 per cent.
Americans have a long history of using parodies and satire in their political and social debates. Whether it’s the Daily Show, the Onion, or books like The Wind Done Gone, humor and poking fun can have a powerful political impact and are plainly protected by law. So what’s with Justin Bieber trying to take down the website freebieber.org?
Earlier this week, U.K. tabloids such as The Times and The Daily Mail suggested that London’s Occupy LSX protest was left largely empty at night, and used pictures taken by thermal imaging cameras as evidence. With only one or two ‘hot’ tents glowing in a field of darkness, it looked like the campsite was a fraud.
A visit to the camp already proved it plenty full, but
after renting the same model of camera and shooting the above video, however, activists also proved that tents remain “cold” to the cameras even when occupied. This insulating effect is the purpose of tents, whose heat-reflectivity is marketed by the companies that make them.
Moreover, the footage shows that activity in and around camp is still apparent at night, despite the insulating effect of the material. Presumably, those taking the original thermal images could observe the camp and assess the occupation level with their own eyes, too.
Only in carefully-selected thermal stills would the protest camp appear empty, leaving the impression the reporters must have known the story spun from the thermal images wasn’t true.
Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, a mother of four, started recording and posting videos of trashy playgrounds, and quickly built an international following. Her lab tests, which revealed dangerous bacteria on the equipment, have been featured on network broadcasts and in major national newspapers.
This week, Carr-Jordan was notified by an East Valley franchisee’s attorney that she is no longer allowed in any of his McDonald’s restaurants that have playgrounds.
"Rather than have someone come into the playgrounds and do the right thing and make them clean and safe, they told me not to come in anymore," Carr-Jordan said.
Greece’s failure to cut spending and boost revenue by enough to meet targets set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund prompted bondholders to accept a 50 percent loss on its debt. While Ireland won’t seek debt discounts, the government might pursue other relief given to Greece, including cheaper interest payments on aid and longer to repay it, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be identified as no final decision has been taken.
“There’s a political problem for the government,” said Gavin Blessing, a bond analyst at Collins Stewart Plc in Dublin. “The Greeks, who are seen to be behaving badly, get rewarded, whereas the Irish, the top boys in the class, get nothing.”
Reporter Charlie Savage of the New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the federal government’s interpretation of its own law…and had it refused. According to the federal government, its own interpretation of the law is classified. What sort of democracy are we living in when the government can refuse to even say how it’s interpreting its own law?
So, in the future you have to go to a hotel in a different country just to participate in a teleconference where none of the people are in the same room. And nobody talks to each other, they just finger swipe through life. Got it.
The F-22 has been okayed to fly again, after being grounded, cleared, grounded, then cleared once more—all within a year. And yet, the Air Force hasn’t fixed the plane’s life threatening flaw. It doesn’t seem like it cares.
The F-22 is not a fighter aircraft. It is not a weapon of war.
It is, primarily, a means to divert Federal funds to businesses located in Republican districts. That is all.
It doesn’t matter if the plane doesn’t actually fly. Even if it doesn’t fly, it still “works”, because it sinks billions into the economies of Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Missouri. Thats what they mean when they say that the F-22 “works”.
I went back and found every Android phone shipped in the United
States up through the middle of last year. I then tracked down
every update that was released for each device – be it a major OS
upgrade or a minor support patch — as well as prices and release
and discontinuation dates. I compared these dates and versions to
the currently shipping version of Android at the time. The
resulting picture isn’t pretty — well, not for Android users.
This took a lot of effort, and his resulting infographic is striking. Many Android phones ship on day one with an old version of the OS and never catch up at any point. Fantastic work. Pretty good analysis too:
In other words, Apple’s way of getting you to buy a new phone is
to make you really happy with your current one, whereas apparently
Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by
making you really unhappy with your current one. Then again, all
of this may be ascribing motives and intent where none exist —
it’s entirely possible that the root cause of the problem is
just flat-out bad management (and/or the aforementioned
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.
The visitor allowance is lower for those with styled maps (visually customised ones), who will have to pay $4 per 1,000 map loads after the first 2,500 – this goes up to $8 per 1,000 loads after 25,000 loads.
A "map load" counts as a user opening a page with the app on it. The degree to which a user interacts with a map once it has been loaded has no impact on the usage limits.
Developers who use the Maps API have three options: either bring their usage numbers down below the threshold, pay the overuse fees or cough up $10,000+ for a Google Maps API Premier licence.
I guess there’s that fairly easy way to bring down usage numbers that a lot of sites follow…
Funny how Google follows the business model of crack dealers…
1) Free sample.
2) Bigger free sample.
3) When customer is hopelessly hooked to product, charge for it.
But, in recent years, some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy.
When I lived in Asia and covered the financial crisis there in the late 1990s, American government officials spoke scathingly about “crony capitalism” in the region. As Lawrence Summers, then a deputy Treasury secretary, put it in a speech in August 1998: “In Asia, the problems related to ‘crony capitalism’ are at the heart of this crisis, and that is why structural reforms must be a major part” of the International Monetary Fund’s solution.
The American critique of the Asian crisis was correct. The countries involved were nominally capitalist but needed major reforms to create accountability and competitive markets.
Something similar is true today of the United States.