7,000,000,000th Person Joins Earth, RPN gets older (link dump)

37 times around the Sun, now with 7,000,000,000 of my closest friends.   Thus we mark the year.

October 31, 2011

The U.N. estimates that the world’s population will pass the 7 billion mark on Monday.

Much of that growth has happened in Asia — in India and China. Those two countries have been among the world’s most populous for centuries. But a demographic shift is taking place as the countries have modernized and lowered their fertility rates. Now, the biggest growth is taking place in sub-Saharan Africa.

For all the actual problems the world faces, this is one that I think will largely moderate itself as more and more of humanity catches up to the present (in the 21st century, unless your political climate is noxious towards women, there are ample methods for taking control of one’s reproductive life).

Wage stats for 2010.  No surprise here…

Based on data in the table below, about 66.2 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the $39,959.30 raw average wage. By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $26,363.55 for 2010.

[full stats]

When the average is 50% higher than the  median it’s probably a situation where people are taking to the streets to protest and….oh.  And yes you read that right, half of wage earners earned less than $27K last year.  These are the folks every Republican candidate wants to *raise taxes* on (i.e. “expand the base”), while cutting them further for the wealthy.

Palestine goes for country-hood, U.S. promptly pulls funding (I hate this crap, the UN created Israel, but somehow it horrible to use the same mechanism to create Palestine).

PARIS (Reuters) – The United Nations’ cultural agency decided Monday to give the Palestinians full membership of the body, a vote that will boost their bid for recognition as a state at the United Nations.

UNESCO is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have joined as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on September 23.

[full story]

–followed by–

The United States has announced it will stop its financial contributions to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after the body admitted Palestine as a member on Monday.

“We were to have made a $60 million payment to UNESCO in November and we will not be making that payment,” said the US State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.

[full story]

This is another one of those things where the Obama administration is doing exactly what conservatives want them to do, but will get absolutely no credit whatsoever for doing it.   Indeed, this will likely be interpreted as “throwing Israel under the bus” when in reality what we are doing, once again, is “going to the mat for an unthankful ally who ignores our requests they stop violating the law“.

Just to get an idea of what crap goes on and gets called justice over there…

An Israeli court on Thursday threw out a lawsuit filed by a Palestinian family that lost two relatives after their home in the Gaza Strip was bombed during an Israel Defense Forces operation.

The Jerusalem District Court refused the family’s request for damages, ruling that the fatal 2006 bombing was a legitimate act of war.

Fatma Wahabe and her son Khaled were killed after a missile fire by an IDF assault helicopter hit their home in Khan Yunis, instead of the targeted vehicle carrying wanted Palestinian militants.

The court’s decision was based in part on an affidavit filed by the head of the Shin Bet security service’s department on Gaza, who defended the IDF operation as necessary “to prevent a clear, immediate, and present danger to public safety.”

“It was an initiated attack meant to strike a top terror operative based on solid intelligence, according to which he was about to attack Israeli citizens,” the judge said.

The plaintiffs were also ordered to pay NIS 25,000 in legal fees.

[full story]

I can’t imagine how someone occupying your city, killing your family, and charging you for the service could do anything but build strong bonds of fellowship.

Right Wing Pundit realizing GOP primacy choices are largely  a joke.

Great questions for anyone who wants to claim that Big Poverty caused the financial crisis of 2008.  One of the more disturbing aspects of the collapse of 2008 is that the people responsible have done a bang-up job of blaming everyone else for the collapse.   I’m guessing this is because they control most of the money and media, and therefore just get to propagate loads of self-affirming bullshit.   However, when you run into someone that claims it was the CRA (from ’94) that caused the crisis (in ’08), there’s a few good questions on that link to ask them.  (note: these are more technical economics questions, so it’s important to first ascertain if the person you are talking to has a basic understanding of how economics works.  If they are a Ron Paul supporter….just nod and back away).

Read this and then you’ll understand that cutting corporate tax rates won’t do a dang thing unless we cut them to negative numbers.   (and that’s  one of the “good” guys).  We need a corporate AMT, based on yearly reporting earnings, firm-wide.

Marco Rubio has been a’lyin about his origin story.  Whenever I see this guy, I always think it’s this guy.   Maybe it’s because when Rubio talks, it’s like he’s living in an imaginary Never Never Land

Canadians seems to have taking a liking to Canadians.  I can see why…who doesn’t like Canadians?

Grab Bag of Political Link Dumpings

Just a few things to get off the desktop here…organized by order of randomness…

How “For Profit” Colleges cost us all a lot of money.   I hate it when good things (higher education) get exploited for money in the wrong way.   Continuing professional education should be a means to an end (expanding skillsets leading to making more money/job satisfaction) not used as that end in and of itself.

The Reality of the last Congress.

The Big Lie that killed it.

Glenn’s attempt at the Big Lie on Net Neutrality….only partially successful.   I’ll probably do more on this after more details and analysis come out.  I am a big proponent of net neutrality.  The real kind, not the bastardized concept bouncing around the RWEC.

Fox News gives in, tells the truth, and now 9/11 Responders get federal help.   Note: Shep Smith had a previous rant about this subject that followed my guidelines in How to Make Government Look Really Bad (and Win) to the letter.   Now if we could only get Fox to stop lying about climate change we’d be that much closer to having a functioning democracy again.

 —

EU is getting sick of Israeli shennangans.  I think pretty much everyone is.   When they have the gall to blame any third party for the breakdown of peace negotiations when they pull this settlement bait and switch is somewhat galling.    Still, giving the recent string of Obama victories, maybe this SNL skit (re:Hillary) might turn out right (personally I think low expectations of a real deal increases their chances dramatically in this clusterfark).  

There will simply not be enough lawns to get off of.   I take a certain bit of guilty pleasure in reading that article.  I’ve long held that Boomers are one of the most spoiled, entitled and ultimately disastrous generations to have cursed this nation.  And now they get to start reaping their harvest.   And by “they” I meant “we”.

The grim results arrive before next month’s milestone, when the oldest baby boomers will turn 65. America’s baby boomer generation of 79 million people adds up to a little more than a quarter of the U.S. population, the center reports.

Over the next 19 years, about 10,000 people will turn 65 each day, the survey reports, resulting in a grayer America by 2030. By that year, 18% of the nation’s population will be over the age of 65, compared with 13% now.

 I just hope they come up with a good Alzheimer’s drug before the Tea Party really takes off .   I think there’s a roughly 50% chance the nation as we know it survives the Boomers.   Seriously.   By 2030 the U.S. will be 25% Young, Poor, and Hispanic and 18% Old, Rich and Racist.  If that doesn’t tear it apart, nothing will.

I Come From a City Full Of Terrorists

It turns out I have a lot closer ties to terrorism than even I thought.   You might too.

If you have ever given money to a hospital, you might be a terrorist.

If you have ever helped the poor, especially some of the poorest in the world, you might be a terrorist.

If you have ever given money, or donated services, to a school, you might be a terrorist.

Even if you have never advocated a violent action, or done one, or given money to someone who does, you STILL might be a terrorist.

And this is considered one of the greatest “victories” by Bush in the Global War on Terror.  

U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.

The convictions follow the collapse of Holy Land’s first trial last year and defeats in other cases the government tried to build. President George W. Bush had personally announced the freezing of Holy Land’s assets in 2001, calling the action “another step in the war on terrorism.”

Holy Land wasn’t accused of violence. Rather, the government said the Richardson, Texas-based charity financed schools, hospitals and social welfare programs controlled by Hamas in areas ravaged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prosecutors labeled Holy Land’s benefactors — called zakat committees — as terrorist recruiting pools. The charities, the government argued, spread Hamas’ violent ideology and generated loyalty and support among Palestinians.

Holy Land supporters told a different story. They accused the government of politicizing the case as part of its war on terrorism, while attorneys for the foundation said Holy Land’s mission was philanthropy and providing much-needed aid to the Middle East.

They reminded jurors that none of the zakat committees are designated by the U.S. as terrorist fronts, and that Holy Land also donated to causes elsewhere, including helping victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

[full story]

For those completely ignorant of Islam (like most of the Texas jurors in the case) “zakat” is one of the five pillars upon which the religion is based.  The word literally means “alms for the poor.”   The cultural translation to the Western world would be “tithing” (at least in those religions where tithing isn’t really optional if you want to be a member in good standing.)

Regardless, you can probably guess that “zakat communities” are composed of some of the poorest folks around.  And when you take the poorest people in one of the poorest “countries” in the world, you are talking fairly destitute.

One would think that it would be the “Christian” thing to do to help them.  Maybe try and build schools and hospitals?

Well, if one thought that, one would be thinking like an actual Christian, not an American one.   In the U.S. it is a terrorist act to help the poor.

At least in Bush’s America.

Note: This is the second trial for these folks.  The first was declared a mistrial.  Why?   Hmmm, how to explain this….ah here we go….23% of Texans still thought Obama was Muslim before the election.  Understand what I’m dealing with here?  Good, glad that’s clear.

Here’s some excerpts from a story about the first mistrial….

October 23, 2007

The U.S. Justice Department suffered a major setback in another high-profile terrorist prosecution Monday when its criminal case against five former officials of a now-defunct Islamic charity collapsed into a tangle of legal confusion.

U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish declared a mistrial, but not before it became clear that the government’s landmark terrorism finance case – and one of its most-costly post-9/11 prosecutions – was in serious trouble.

His decision came after jury verdicts were read to a packed courtroom indicating that none of the defendants had been found guilty on any of the 200 combined counts against them. Jurors had acquitted defendants on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists.

However, during routine polling of the jurors to determine that their votes were accurately reflected in the findings, two said they were not. When efforts to reconcile the surprise conflict failed, Fish declared the mistrial.

The case presented to a Texas jury of eight women and four men relied heavily on Israeli intelligence and involved disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by federal agents over a span of nearly 15 years.

[I’m sorry, but how is foreign intelligence colllected using Mossad tactics admissable in U.S./Texas courts?  Just curious if anyone knows…]

Juror William Neal, 33, who said his father worked in military intelligence, said that the government’s case had “so many gaps” that he regarded the prosecution as “a waste of time.”

The jury forewoman, who like the other jurors was not identified, told the court she could not explain the positions of the two panelists. “When the vote was [taken]… no one spoke up” about any differences, she said. “I really don’t understand where it’s coming from… all 12 made that decision.”

The judge excused the jurors to work out the discrepancies. About 40 minutes later, they returned to court and the two female jurors both continued to maintain that their verdicts had not been tallied accurately.

As a result, Abdulqader’s acquittal on all counts was set aside, forcing him to face a potential retrial with the others.

Both women had been noted dozing off during court proceedings, and juror Neal said one of them also fell asleep during deliberations. The latter, he said, voted guilty from the beginning, was confused by the evidence and much of the time declined to participate in deliberations.

This is probably the part that kills me the most.  Some idiot racist decided by looking at the defendants they were guilty and skipped the actual trial and evidence part (and that assumption of innocence).   So the acquittal gets set aside, the government gets to play some Double Jeopardy, and do a better job picking idiots to the jury.

In 2004, the government alleged that Holy Land and its officials funneled about $12 million to Hamas through local charities called zakat committees. The government argued that from its inception Holy Land was intended to be a fundraising tool for Hamas, a contention that was never documented in court.

[full story]

So it looks like the government argument here was very similar to the Bush Administration argument for invading Iraq; “Sure, these particular people didn’t attack us and aren’t a threat to us…but they sure do look like people who are.”

It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.

On the personal note, I grew up in Richardson, Texas, THE HOTBED OF TERRORIST FINANCING IN THE U.S.

No wonder I ended up being a flippin’ RobotPirateNinja, those were some hard streets.

Should I just turn myself in now?  Or wait for them to come get me?  After all, I am now it would seem, defending terrorists convicted for helping the poor and sickly.  

Curious world Bush gave us.