Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ties to Hezbollah Remain Murky in “Terror Plots” Targeting Israel

Ties to Hezbollah Remain Murky in “Terror Plots” Targeting Israel is another article from Gareth Porter posted on TruthOut.

Even if the US. national security state does not wish to acknowledge that the Burgas bombing fits the profile of an al-Qaeda terrorist operation rather than Hezbollah, there is no excuse for the US news media failure to report that inconvenient truth.

I originally posted the interview with Gareth Porter in the post The Porter Report: Israel, the Bulgaria Bombings and Iran.

Then I posted a different point of view in the post Before Deadly Bulgaria Bombing, Tracks of a Resurgent Iran-Hezbollah Threat. This latest article from Gareth Porter seems to be casting doubt on the opposing post.

It is still up to the reader to figure out where the truth lies (an interesting juxtaposition of words).  Can anyone provide a third opinion from a reputable source, whatever that means?

Regulator Rebuffs Obama on Plan to Ease Housing Debt

From The New York Times comes the story Regulator Rebuffs Obama on Plan to Ease Housing Debt.

 The Federal Housing Finance Agency said it had concluded after months of study that up to half a million homeowners could benefit from such a program, and that taxpayers might save $1 billion because aid recipients would be more likely to continue making mortgage payments.

But the agency’s acting director, Edward J. DeMarco, said the benefits most likely would be much smaller — too small in his judgment to offset potential costs, including the risk that some borrowers would stop making payments in pursuit of a better deal.

Since Edward J. DeMarco is a Bush appointee, can we be allowed to pin the blame for this problem on George Bush?  I know it is late into the Obama administration, but the Bush deviltry seems to have long lasting effects.

False internet rumors about “real estate transaction tax” worry taxpayers

The Journal of Accountancy has the article False internet rumors about “real estate transaction tax” worry taxpayers.

The National Association of Realtors has some tax advice for users of the internet: Don’t believe everything you read.

In anticipation that I will hear from some people about this false rumor, I have decided to publish this blog post with a link to the actual article.  You have to read the article for all the details, but here is the example the article mentions.

Example: A married couple with MAGI of $325,000 purchased a home in California many years ago for $350,000 and sold it this year for $900,000, realizing a gain of $550,000. After excluding $500,000 gain under Sec. 121, they are left with $50,000 investment income (assume they have no other investment income). Since their AGI is $75,000 over the tax’s threshold amount for married taxpayers filing jointly, the lesser amount of $50,000 would be subject to taxation. At 3.8% they would owe $1,900.

So first, this couple had a $325,000 modified adjusted gross income and then they sold a house for a gain of $550,000.  Their tax on the real estate transaction of $1,900 amounted to 0.35% of their real estate gain.  Moreover, they had $325,000 modified adjusted gross income beyond the real estate gain to cover the $1,900 tax.  I don’t think they will have to choose between paying their taxes and eating their next meal over a tax bill of this size.

Before Deadly Bulgaria Bombing, Tracks of a Resurgent Iran-Hezbollah Threat

The Nation Of Change has the story Before Deadly Bulgaria Bombing, Tracks of a Resurgent Iran-Hezbollah Threat.

After a decade in which al Qaeda dominated the world stage, the global terror threat from Iran has escalated sharply, generating a swarm of recent plots from Delhi to Mombasa to Washington and signaling an aggressive new strategy, counterterror officials say.

I post this story as a counter to the previous post The Porter Report: Israel, the Bulgaria Bombings and Iran.

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out what parts, if any, you can believe of either story.  You get no points deducted if you cannot finish the exercise.

The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare

The Nation Of Change has the article The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare.

Many of the same folks who brought the economy to ruin just a few years ago are now going to come up with a plan that is supposed to set the budget and the economy on a forward path. At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

It is an interesting article even if I do classify this as an example of Greenberg’s Law of the Media.  He talks about an 0.3% change per year in the COLA adjustment for Social Security, aggregates this to 3% over ten years and then compares this to the 3% change in upper income tax rate.  3% is 3%, right?  Well 0.3% a year is  not the same as 3% a year and 3% over 10 years is also not the same as 3% over 1 year.  Putting this aside, the rest of the article might supply you with some information you didn’t know.

Overcoming Mitt Romney Style Racism

The above video is one of a series from The Real News on Israel Social TV.

The titles in this series are:

  • The Judaizing of East Jerusalem
  • The Inability To Get Public Housing
  • Fruitful pressure
  • Refusing to Enlist in Israel
  • Israel and Women’s Disobedience
  • Polluting Occupation

So far, I have only viewed the video shown above. When I saw it yesterday, I wasn’t sure that I needed to post this on the blog. After what I learned in order to post Mitt Romney sets off culture skirmish over Israel economy, I realized how necessary it was to make this post.

If Mitt Romney thinks that culture is the major factor in the disparity between Palestinian and Jewish lifestyles in Israel, perhaps he ought to look at more videos like these. In America, he may think that the 99% are not as rich as he because they lack his culture. What they lack is the culture of having a rich parent, a privileged lifestyle, and absolutely no conscience about who they rip off to amass their fortune.

Mitt Romney sets off culture skirmish over Israel economy

McClatchy has the article Mitt Romney sets off culture skirmish over Israel economy.

Mitt Romney suggested Monday that Israelis enjoy a better standard of living than neighboring Palestinians do because they have a superior culture and enjoy the “hand of providence.”

One thing I do know, is that I do not want Mitt Romney’s bigotry to represent me and my country to the rest of the world.

I find that if you cannot detect stereotypical, bigoted, racist thinking in your own ideas, then one of the best ways to get woken up is to meet some people who violate your stereotypes very radically.  In my life I have had the pleasure of working with and becoming friends with some Palestinians who are the antithesis of Mitt Romney’s pronouncement in every respect.

One friend in particular, that I can think of was raised and educated through undergraduate college in the middle-east.  He came to the United States to get a technical PhD from one of the top technical universities in this country.

When he came for a job interview at our company, I was very much in favor of hiring him on my firmly held belief that I liked to hire people smarter than myself.  He certainly did not disappoint through his tenure at the company.

He eventually went on to become a professor at a mid-western university.  I have a sense of how hard he worked to gain tenure.   He guided student’s work in leading edge research so that they could  earn their PhD’s.  He wrote, co-wrote articles, and presented his and his student’s research at many technical conferences.  He had leadership roles in technical organizations, and was a sought after consultant to many of the most prominent technical companies.

What also struck me was his command of the English language.  I was struck when he demonstrated better knowledge of both the formal aspects of the language and better knowledge of some of the idioms than I, as a native speaker of English, had.

His compassion for his family and his friends was also remarkable.

When it came time for me to leave the company where we had worked together, he pointed me to contacts at one of the companies where he had consulted.  That lead to work that I did as a major part of the rest of my career.  That work was related to what I learned from working with him at the previous company.

Mitt Romney In Favor Of Obama Care – For Israel

Talking Points Memo has the article Romney: Socialized Health Care Good For Israel, Not For U.S..

During a trip to Israel, Mitt Romney hailed the nation’s health care system for holding down costs and broadening coverage more effectively than the U.S.

The irony: Israel contains costs by adopting a very centralized, government-run health care system — anathema to Romney’s Republican Party.

“Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? Eight percent. You spend eight percent of GDP on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation,” he said Monday at a breakfast fundraiser, according to the New York Times. “We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”

Israel’s health care system is an instructive exercise in all that rankles American conservatives — replete with government mandates, price controls and centralized payments funded mostly by high taxes.

Why does Romney hate America so much?  Or is it just Americans that he doesn’t like?

Ex-sceptic says climate change is down to humans

The BBC has the story Ex-sceptic says climate change is down to humans. The following quote has a certain ironic synchronicity with a conversation that a friend and I have been having.

The team argues that the good correspondence between the new temperature record and historical data on CO2 emissions suggests human activity is “the most straightforward explanation” for the warming.

I am not a climate change denier, and I am not disagreeing with the finding of these scientists, however I must point out that though ‘human activity is “the most straightforward explanation” for the warming’, being the most straightforward does not prove it is the correct explanation.

The strength of their conclusion depends on how rigorous and thorough the scientists were in testing a large universe of other possible explanations.   From this article, we have no idea how this study stacks up under that criterion.

As an engineer, the way that I think it would be proper to proceed on trying to ameliorate the effects of global climate change would be to always ask “If we are wrong about climate change, what would be the effect of the proposed policy change?”  If you can honestly say that the new policy were a good one and a cost effective one even if we are wrong about global climate change, then you have a policy change that you can feel very comfortable about proposing.

Even if humans are not the major cause of climate change, it would still make sense to lessen our impact on the problem so as not to make a natural phenomenon even worse.  In times of drought, we try to conserve water even though humans are not the cause of the drought.


The Porter Report: Israel, the Bulgaria Bombings and Iran

I cannot attest to the correctness of this reporter’s suppositions, but I had already thought of the possibility of what he is saying before I heard him say it.

To think that Mitt Romney is so naive that he would travel to Israel and espouse a position that accepts the Israeli version of the events hook, line, and sinker. Note that the official position of the U.S. government is that they do not have sufficient evidence to make any of the claims that Israel is making.

If our current bellicose stance toward Iran has little chance of success, imagine what an even worse effort from Mitt Romney would bring. I wouldn’t be surprised if your imaginings brought you to a third (or is it fifth) war in the middle-east that would cost our country dearly. I can think of a number of companies whose interests would be greatly enhance by such a war, and I am not surprised that these companies support Mitt Romney.