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31 December 2011

Get A Kit / Make A Plan / Be Prepared

Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

The following was originally posted on CDC Public Health Matters Blog on May 16th, 2011 by Ali S. Khan.
Image of zombie
There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

A Brief History of Zombies
 
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal Web Site Icon.), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.
Photo: A couple dressed as zombies - Danny Zucco and Sandy Olsson from the movie Grease walking in the annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
A couple dressed as zombies - Danny Zucco and Sandy Olsson from the movie Grease walking in the annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
 
In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Scholzman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in Night of the Living Dead), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies.
  The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”
Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!

Better Safe than Sorry
Photo: Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
 
So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.
    Photo: Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.
    Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.
  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
Never Fear – CDC is Ready
Photo: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared
Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).
To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/cdc/orgs_progs.asp

To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/

To download a badge like the one above that you can add to your social networking profile, blog, website, or email signature visit:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies.asp

Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • New Hours of Operation
    8am-8pm ET/
    Monday-Friday
    Closed Holidays
  • cdcinfo@cdc.gov
Ready.gov - Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
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Ceci n'est pas une horloge / Eloi 0, Morlocks 388 (final) / if you know more than I do about Time, seek professional help promptly / Leap Second tonight? Is the Universe running slow or fast?


Click images, they probably get bigger.
Maybe they will even make more sense.

A Christmukkah/Solstice Gift for the household finally arrived a couple of days after Christmas, and Lo! The fucking thing works like a champ, and now we know EXACTLY what time it is in the upstairs bathroom. (Which is nearly always the exact time in other parts of the house and Earth and the Solar System and, for all I know, the Universe).

(Previously we relied on a $5 piece of crap from Target that reliably told us the Wrong Time. It was of very little comfort to know that it was perfectly correct twice a day.)

One of Vleeptron's first PizzaQ's was about my strange clock, which worked great whenever I took trips into the Far Future (to see the big football match between the Morlocks and the Eloi), but if I took it back to 1880, or the Paleozoic Era, the fucking thing had no clue what time it was, it was useless. 

What kind of verkakte clock works great in the future, but doesn't work at all in the past?

Well of course that's because these thingies aren't clocks at all. They're radios, designed to listen for a special computerized government radio signal, and automatically decode it.

When you install its battery, at first it just sits there confused and clueless, and sulks and won't tell time or do anything. It is doing a perfect impersonation of a broken, useless clock that you will soon have to repackage and send back to the Atomic Clock store, with an annoyed complaint.

But if you just leave it alone overnight (the government signal travels best and strongest at night -- it's an ionosphere thing), eventually it will automatically acquire the WWV radio signal, decode it, and then the hour and minute hands do this crazy whack dance around and around, until finally the hands arrive on the EXACT TIME. And stay there.

It's almost worth standing in front of the clock for hours waiting for the hands to do their whirly whacky dance.

This is my third atomic clock. (They keep getting cheaper and simpler.) I don't know why I love these gizmos -- in elementary and junior high school we had a phrase: "Fun for the feeble-minded."

I think it's because you sort of maybe think you sort of maybe know what time it probably is or might be.

But I REALLY know what time it is. In a million years, I won't be more than one second late for a dentist appointment.

* * *

an e-mail to SW.M.B.O. about the new muy starwarz dingus, the clock which is not a clock. (She loves it.) This is not a clock.

* * *
Them machines on the right count the natural vibrations of [a specific isotope of] the cesium atom, and that keeps time to some astonishing precision, like 1 second every million years. As my audio engineer pals were wont to say: Close enough for rock n roll!
(In my Army helicopter repair factory, everyone would say "Close enough for government work," and toss the piece of precision machinery into a bin.) 


On the left is the format the radio station uses to broadcast the time, date, and a whole bunch of other arcana, like sunspot and radio interference predictions. Mostly the only thing in the signal anybody cares about is the Time and Date (and of course if it's Daylight Savings Time or Whatever). 


UTC refers to


Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time. Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC for that purpose. If only limited precision is needed, clients can obtain the current UTC time from a number of official internet UTC servers. For sub-microsecond precision, clients can obtain the time from satellite signals. Time zones around the world are expressed as positive or negative offsets from UTC, as in this list.
Coordinated Universal Time is based on International Atomic Time (TAI), a time standard calculated using a weighted average of signals from atomic clocks located in nearly 70 national laboratories around the world.[1] The only difference between the two is that UTC is occasionally adjusted by adding a leap second in order to keep it within one second of UT1, which is defined by the Earth's rotation. In the 50 years up to and including 2011, a total of 34 leap seconds have been added.
The UTC standard was officially standardized in 1961 by the International Radio Consultative Committee, after having been initiated by several national time laboratories. The system was changed several times over the following years, until leap seconds were adopted in 1972. A number of proposals have been made to replace it with a new system, which would eliminate leap seconds, but no consensus has yet been reached to do so.


... but its close friends just call it Greenwich Mean Time or Zulu Time. If you know the precise differences between UTC, Greenwich and Zulu, then you know way too much about systems of time measurement.


We're usually UTC - 5 , because UTC originates at the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, so they're 5 hours ahead of us. Their motto is "The place where time begins," and they ain't jivin'. (For a brief time the Paris Observatory claimed that time began there, not with those filthy English pig astronomers, but eventually Greenwich won out.)

Schoolchildren and your husband like to skip over an illuminated line in the sidewalk and jump from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere, and then back again. This is a source of endless mirth, thrill and delight.

I don't know if we're adding a Leap Second tonight. I don't know if the Universe is running fast or slow.


It's an awfully dreamy campus, designed by Christopher Wren, surrounded by a gorgeous big park, and down the hill you can see the Thames and Queens House, which is by Inigo Jones. One night Halley, the Astronomer Royal (and career Naval officer), got drunk with Peter the Great, and they pushed each other all over the place in a wheelbarrow.


Ships in the Thames can look up at the Observatory tower and, EXACTLY at noon, see the metal Time Ball drop, and thus the ship could precisely set its own on-board chronomometer, a setting which would keep the sailors from perishing no matter how far around the world they sail. If you can see the Time Ball drop, you'll always know the exact time, and consequently you can always compute the exact longitude. 
(Before this system, shipwrecks, and weeks lost far from fresh water, were common.)
The wonderful Harrison Chronometers, by which the self-taught clockmaker solved the Longitude problem, are still at the Observatory ticking away like ... well, clockwork. The hearts of the clock mechanism are not metal, but gears of self-lubricating lignum vitae wood.

27 December 2011

Ron Paul and his newsletter's racist homophobic remarks (which Paul claims he didn't write)

 The Washington Post

fact-checker blog

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Ron Paul and the racist newsletters (Fact Checker biography)

at 06:02 AM ET, 12/27/2011

(Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column will be the first in a series of four columns this week examining how factual Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) has been in describing his career in politics. Reporter Josh Hicks has spent weeks examining Paul’s statements and deciding which ones best represent how Paul talks about his past. Hicks has previously examined biographical statements by Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.
— Glenn Kessler
 
******
 
“I’m not a racist. As a matter of fact, Rosa Parks is one of my heroes, Martin Luther King is a hero — because they practiced the libertarian principle of civil disobedience, nonviolence.”
— Ron Paul, responding during a Jan. 10, 2008, CNN interview to questions about racially charged articles published in the “Ron Paul Political Report” during the 1990s.
 

“I never read that stuff. I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written, and it’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this.”
— Ron Paul, responding to more questions about the newsletters during an interview with CNN, Dec. 21, 2011

Accusations of racism against Paul first surfaced during the candidate’s 1996 congressional campaign, when Democratic opponent Lefty Morris unveiled racially tinged quotes from a newsletter the Texas libertarian had published during his 12-year hiatus from public office.

The national media latched onto the issue during Paul’s 2008 presidential bid, after the New York Times and the New Republic highlighted derogatory statements about blacks and gays from the bulletins.

The issue resurfaced as Paul moved to the front of the GOP pack in recent weeks, and the congressman appeared to be fed up with the matter as he walked away from an interview in which a CNN reporter pressed for more answers. (See the video below).
We won’t be the judge of whether Paul is a bigot, but we can examine the extent to which he had control over his publications. Are we to believe he never reviewed the newsletters that bore his name? Would he have eliminated the messages if he’d seen them?
THE FACTS
Paul helped form the Ron Paul & Associates corporation in 1984, and the now-defunct company, for which he served as president, began publishing newsletters the following year. The monthly publications included Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.
Columnist Jonathan Chait noted in a recent column for New York magazine that statements of racist paranoia appeared regularly in Paul’s newsletters, representing a “consistent ideological theme.”

Many of the derogatory comments came from a 1992 commentary in the Political Report titled “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism.” The article blames African American men for the L.A. riots, saying, “The criminals who terrorized our cities — in riots and on every non-riot day — are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are.”

Another passage from the article tries to explain how the tumult finally ended, saying, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.” The writer gives no credit to police, state troopers or soldiers from the National Guard and Army and the Marines who helped end the chaos.

That wasn’t an isolated incident with Paul’s newsletters. A separate article from the Survival Report said, “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”

The Paul publications also criticized homosexuals, saying gays “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick,” referring to AIDS.

The articles contain no bylines and no signatures, just Ron Paul’s name in giant letters on the publications’ mastheads. This leaves a tiny bit of wiggle room for the Texas congressman to defend himself. That’s what he’s done, telling the media he has “no idea” how the inflammatory comments made it into print.

“I honestly do not know who wrote those things,” he told CNN in January 2008.
Paul has compared himself to a major publisher who had little time to review every article that went to press, even though his newsletters came out monthly — and were thin at that. He claims he was too busy practicing medicine and giving speeches across the country to pay attention to the bulletins.

“It’s been rehashed for a long time, and it’s coming up now for political reasons,” Paul told CNN in January 2008. “Everybody in my district knows I didn’t write them, and I don’t speak like that. Nobody has ever heard me say anything like that.”

Certain passages in the newsletters suggest that Paul, or at least someone using his persona, wrote for the publications. One article from October 1992 refers to the congressman’s hometown, saying, “even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense, for the animals are coming.”

In an article earlier that year, the author — writing in the first person — announced his decision to chair the economic advisory committee for Pat Buchanan’s presidential bid, a post Paul took up at the time.

The libertarian magazine Reason cited an anonymous source close to the 2008 Paul campaign attributing much of the content from Political Report to Lew Rockwell, founder and chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian economics center.

Rockwell, whose name appears on the newsletters under the title of contributing editor,
told the New Republic that he did not write the controversial articles. He said that there were “seven or eight freelancers involved at various stages” during his tenure with the publishing outfit.

As for Paul’s comments about Rosa Parks, the candidate didn’t show much love for his “hero” when he voted against a measure to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the civil rights icon in 1999. To be fair, he opposed giving the medal to Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II as well, so it doesn’t appear race had anything to do with his stance.

Paul has generally applauded lawmakers for wanting to issue the Gold Medal, but he insists they should put up their own money instead of asking taxpayers to foot the bill, which typically runs about $30,000 for each award.

As for King, a 1992 Ron Paul newsletter referred to the civil rights leader as a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours.”
THE PINOCCHIO TEST
Paul offers implausible explanations for why so many derogatory statements made it into his publications, insisting he knew nothing about them. It’s hard to believe that a man who wants to oversee the entire U.S. government — albeit a smaller version — would provide zero oversight of his publications, or even bother to read them from time to time.

The Texas congressman has to take responsibility for the newsletters that bear his name, or at least acknowledge negligence as the former head of the company that produced them. He earns three Pinocchios for failing to do so.
THREE PINOCCHIOS


(About our rating scale)

25 December 2011

less than 1 week until the past becomes the future!

Click Einstein-Minkowski Time Cone to enlarge.

Here it is again, updated, Vleeptron's Cliche-Free New Year's Greeting!

22 December 2011

response to previous post & comments / Ron Paul the Goofy & Screwy / Bush & Obama the Really Dangerous

Yo Christian Divine -- Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth, Good Will to All!

Yo Atheist -- Happy Solstice! Wear a warm pullover!

Okay, here is the deal about Ron Paul.

He's nuts -- albeit a nut-case whose Texas Gulf Coast constituents have been re-electing to the US House of Representatives a gazillion times.

So I start by a short scientific description of this odd kind of psychiatric disorder -- accompanied by tens of thousands of adult voters who all believe the same loony things which the central nutcase espouses. Most nutcases have to wander though the psychiatric ward alone or accompanied by one or two hospital orderlies. Ron has tons of adoring unsupervised companions and adoring fans every 2 years.

Oh, after the Air Force flight surgeon time, Ron changed specialties and became an obstetrician. His US House of Representatives website proudly announces he has delivered something on the order of 3000 babies.

So if political doom were ever to befall Ron and he lost his cushy congressman gig, he has this other day job skill he can fall back on, in a world with no shortage of pregnant females. As for his obstetrical expertise, I would gladly refer my pregnant wife, daughter, granddaughter, or mistress named Tiffani to his care.

The book calls Ron a Republican, and indeed it is the Republican nomination for the US presidency which Ron is running for -- and leading the field in the Iowa Caucus (the big pre-election popularity contest in a few days).

But Ron is not and never has been a Republican.

Ron is a Hard-Core Red Meat Doctrinaire Ideologue Libertarian.



It's all about Freedom for Ron. Freedom from Government. Freedom from government-commanded laws. Freedom from Cops. (He will immediately, on taking office, end The War On Drugs.)

In Congress they call him "Doctor No," because he votes NO on ANY BILL which calls for the federal government to spend 1 penny of tax dollars.

He wants the USA immediately to get rid of the Federal Reserve Bank (USA semi-autonomous public-private Central Bank), and then return to the Gold Standard. Every single fucking dollar in the USA economic system must be backed by a piece of gold of some weight or the other. (We stopped doing that around 1933. Cf. William Jennings Bryant's famous "Cross of Gold" speech.)

Ron is muy loopy -- and knows it and is proud of it, and so's his mom. (We also have 1 Socialist in the USA Senate, Bernie Saunders from Vermont. Bernie describes himself as an "Independent.")

His newly elected US Senator son, Tea Partier Rand Paul, has expressed interest aloud, in front of live microphones, of returning the legal right to discriminate on the basis of skin color. Just like 1955. Just like 1840, for that matter.

I would love to spend a Paul Family 3-day Christmas weekend. The unique treats and traditions of Christmas on Planet Paul. (I like his part of the country, very close to Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was gifted with 1 free year, and enjoyed the crap out of it and its hospitable people. Great ocean beaches! Hot gun-totin' babes! Magnifico Food y Musica! Flaco Jimenez el Rey de Tex-Mex!)

By the way, Ron in 2008 and now, is a stellar fund-raising champion. And not millions from big corporations and slime like the evil gazillionaire Koch Brothers. It's ALL some poor schlub's crumpled $10 bill stuffed in an envelope with FOR RON writ large on it. The Ron Paul campaign has many eery resemblences to a Secret Kult (although the campaign scrupulously discloses every crumpled 10-spot to the election authorities).

All that said and acknowledged -- and if you don't believe my defamations and diagnoses, just call Ron's office yourself, and if you get U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (Republican, Texas) on the other end of the line, he'll tell you everything I just did -- and more.

Would I ever want Ron Paul as the President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and (this is a media title, it's not original) Leader of the Free World?

Hahahahhahahaha of course not.

But ..................

How much worse could President Ron do, to the world, to America, than the last two "respectable" loopydoopies? George W. Bush Jr. (Republican) and Barack Obama (Democrat). How much worse could Ron Paul, M.D., OB-GYN, screw the pooch than these violent psychos?

Ron Paul's Promise: ZERO USA FOREIGN WARS. (Bob's Corrolary: ZERO DEAD AND MAIMED COMBAT DEATHS.)

Is this too a symptom of Ron Paul's psychiatric disorders? Is this what we have been educated to believe? Vote for the War Guy! Nuke Iran! Victory in Afghanistan! Vaporize the Heathen Towelheads!

And the No-War Guy -- marginalize that whacko, he's just too weird, too dangerous.

21 December 2011

msnbc's Chuck Todd tells some funny jokes about our silliest presidential candidate: The guy who promises to end our American wars

The only way I can find to contact msnbc cable TV news host Chuck Todd is via Twitter.

Try as I might, I could not shrink my message to him into 144 ASCII characters or less.

So I'll post my letter here, and hope somehow he stumbles across it.

If he doesn't, but you do, stop watching Chuck Todd's show on msnbc and stop buying all products which advertise on it.

====================

Chuck Todd
msnbc

On Monday 19 December in a panel discussion about the Republican presidential candidates, you gave dismissive short shrift to Ron Paul despite his surprising poll strength in Iowa. You parotted the "responsible journalist" line that Paul is a marginalized, unrealistic, unimportant candidate.

I will not debate Rep. Paul's chances of winning the presidency.

But while you publicly laugh at and heap ridicule on his candidacy, I must point out that Paul alone has pledged an immediate end to the USA's foreign wars.

Your stance is a prestigious, high-profile cog in the political machine that has killed 4500 of my neighbors' sons and daughters in Iraq, killed 1860 of my neighbors' children in Afghanistan, and has maimed thousands of these young soldiers, Marines, Navy and Air Force personnel, and physically and psychologically destroyed what remains of their lives.

America, as you perceive, accept and report it, kills its children in uniform, and that is the proper and correct way America conducts its foreign policy. You publicly label any presidential candidate who stridently promises to end these deaths and maimings a marginal flake good only for joke value.


I served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War -- the first of our foot-shooting Asian long wars which left us with military defeat and 52,000 dead American servicemen and servicewomen.

A few of them were my high school friends.

I note from your on-line biography that you have never served in an American military uniform. So like our decision-making political elite, you are highly paid and professionally praised for playing War Poker with other peoples' chips.

By your reckoning, it's okay for other Americans to risk and die in useless overseas wars. No one you know, and no one in your family, is at risk. You explain to a vast television audience why it's a sad but necessary thing for these distant strangers to risk and die, and why any candidate who objects is a silly, dismissable flake.


Republican or Democrat, you help explain to the American people why our next president will keep sending our neighbors' children to overseas wars, and will be their commander-in-chief when their flag-draped coffins return to Dover Air Base.

I do not ask for your support for Ron Paul, nor for your re-assessment of his chances for campaign success.

But I would ask you to consider which candidate clearly stands for the lives and the safety of our troops, and which candidates make foot-shooting "liar's and scoundrel's war" (Congressman Lincoln's description of Polk's Mexican War) the jingo vote-getting centerpiece of their foreign policies.

And in future, clearly tell your audience which is the only candidate who has promised to end these wars the day he assumes office, and commence no more.

With great anger and disgust,

Robert Merkin
Chesterfield, Massachusetts
SP5, U.S. Army, 1969-1971

15 December 2011

conservative minister bans Muslim women's face coverings for Canadian citizenship ceremony / Canada takes a dive away from freedom of religion


Well, this sucks. The conservative regime of Canada is telling Muslims they aren't free to practice their religious traditions if they want to become Canadian citizens.

=================

The Associated Press
(newswire USA)
Wednesday 14 December 2011


Canada bans burqa
at citizenship swearing in

by Rob Gillies

TORONTO (AP) -- New Canadian citizens must remove any face coverings, such as the Islamic niqab or burqa, while they take the oath of citizenship, the country's immigration minister said Monday.

Jason Kenney said most Canadians have misgivings about Islamic face coverings and said new Canadians should take the oath in view of their fellow citizens. He said he has received complaints from lawmakers and citizenship judges who say it's difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.

The Conservative minister called the issue a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of Canada's identity and the country's values of openness and equality. He said women who feel obliged to have their faces covered in public often come from a cultural milieu that treats women as property rather than equal human beings

"I do think that most Canadians find that disquieting to say the least," Kenney said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

"Most Muslim Canadian women I know find the practice of face covering in our society disturbing, indicative of an approach to women that is not consistent with our democratic values," Kenney added.

Kenney made the announcement in the French-speaking province of Quebec, which has experienced heated debates over how much Canada should bend to accommodate newcomers.

Kenney said his government would not go further by drafting laws to ban women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public. France became the first country to enact a law designed to forbid face-covering veils such as the niqab or burqa anywhere in public. Violators risk fines or being ordered to take citizenship classes.

"We shouldn't have the state using its power to dictate what people choose to wear in their private lives, but when there are important points of intersection with the state in obtaining state services I think it's entirely reasonable for people to show who they are," Kenney said.

There are no laws banning veils or headscarves in the U.S., though there have been unsuccessful attempts in some states to ban "Sharia law." The sponsor of such a bill in Oklahoma wanted to prohibit women from wearing headscarves in driver's license photos. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2010 banned veils that obscure the face for security reasons, but later changed it to accommodate Muslim women.

The burqa is a head-to-toe gown with a mesh-like panel over the face that allows a woman to see and breathe. The niqab is a veil that leaves only the eyes exposed.

The new Canadian rule takes effect immediately. Kenney defended it by saying it has nothing to do with religious freedom, and said when Muslim women make a pilgrimage to Mecca they're required to show their face.

"So, the notion that this is somehow a religious obligation, I don't accept," he said.

Kenney said he raised the issue during a recent meeting of citizenship judges in Ottawa and was told it was a widespread problem.

About 940,000 Muslims live in Canada, about 2.8 percent of the Canadian population. It is the fastest growing religion in Canada. Over the last decade Canada has naturalized between 150,000 and 180,000 new citizens a year.

Ihsaan Gardee, the acting executive director of The Canadian Council of American-Islamic Relations, said the decision will have a damaging effect on Canadian democracy because it forces those who wear the veil to choose between their religious convictions and adopting Canadian citizenship. Gardee said a young, veil-wearing woman, who was scheduled to take part in a citizenship ceremony Tuesday, called his office and was no longer sure if she would attend.

But the Muslim Canadian Congress welcomed the new regulation, urging the Canadian government to go even further and ban the burqa and niqab from all public places in Canada.

The rule also takes effect as the Supreme Court of Canada hears the case of a woman who wants the right to wear a niqab while facing her accused rapists in court. Kenney said the timing of Monday's announcement was a coincidence.

Lawyer David Butt, who represents the woman, said he expects the rule to be challenged in court but he said it puts anybody who challenges it in an impossible situation as it would jeopardize their citizenship.

Butt said Canada's version of the bill of rights protects the right to wear the niqab or burqa.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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14 December 2011

soft-core Vleeporn, topless saint beheaded / Saudi woman beheaded for witchcraft & sorcery / Chop Chop Square in Riyadh

Click image to enlarge. 
Leave a Comment if you
want more photos of 
beheadings in Saudi Arabia.

BBC News Middle East
Monday 12 December 2011


Saudi woman executed for
witchcraft and sorcery


A Saudi woman has been executed for practising "witchcraft and sorcery," the country's interior ministry says.

A statement published by the state news agency said Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was beheaded on Monday in the northern province of Jawf.

The ministry gave no further details of the charges which the woman faced.

The woman was the second person to be executed for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia this year. A Sudanese man was executed in September.

'Threat to Islam'

BBC regionalist analyst Sebastian Usher says the interior ministry stated that the verdict against Ms Nasser was upheld by Saudi Arabia's highest courts, but it did not give specific details of the charges.

The London-based newspaper, al-Hayat, quoted a member of the religious police as saying that she was in her 60s and had tricked people into giving her money, claiming that she could cure their illnesses.

Our correspondent said she was arrested in April 2009.

But the human rights group Amnesty International, which has campaigned for Saudis previously sentenced to death on sorcery charges, said it had never heard of her case until now, he adds.

A Sudanese man was executed in September on similar charges, despite calls led by Amnesty for his release.

In 2007, an Egyptian national was beheaded for allegedly casting spells to try to separate a married couple.

Last year, a Lebanese man facing the death penalty on charges of sorcery, relating to a fortune-telling television programme he presented, was freed after the Saudi Supreme Court decreed that his actions had not harmed anyone.

Amnesty says that Saudi Arabia does not actually define sorcery as a capital offence. However, some of its conservative clerics have urged the strongest possible punishments against fortune-tellers and faith healers as a threat to Islam.

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09 December 2011

Thailand's psycho Lese-Majeste Law tosses USA citizen blogger into Thai prison / fight for free speech, overthrow King Bhumibol today

Click the King, he 
gets larger, you get 
thrown in Thai prison

The Financial Times
Thursday 8 December 2011

US citizen jailed for
insulting Thai monarch


by Gwen Robinson in Bangkok

[photo] A Thai-born US citizen Joe Gordon, 55, looks on from inside a cell
A former Colorado car salesman has been sentenced to 5 years in a Thai prison for translating an unauthorised biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and posting it on his blog while at home in the US.

Joe Wichai Commart Gordon, a Thai-born US citizen, was arrested and detained in May, during a holiday in Thailand. He was charged under both the country’s strict lese-majesty law, under which it is illegal to insult the monarchy, and computer crimes act.

His lese-majesty arrest and conviction is believed to be the first of a foreign citizen for activities outside Thailand.

Mr Gordon, 55, pleaded guilty in October to translating and posting excerpts of The King Never Smiles, a 2006 biography, which has been banned in Thailand. The Thai Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced him to five years but halved the jail term, citing his guilty plea.

A US embassy spokesman in Bangkok, Walter Braunohler, said Washington was “deeply troubled” by the conviction and other recent prosecutions under the lese-majesty laws, which he said were “not consistent with international standards of freedom of expression”.

“The US has utmost respect for the Thai monarchy”, Mr Braunohler added.

Mr Gordon’s case has intensified the debate over Thailand’s lese-majesty laws. “Where is justice?” one Thai asked on Facebook. “Why don’t they arrest the author of the book?”

Last month a retired Thai truck driver, Ampon Tangnoppaku, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly sending text messages that insulted Queen Sirikit. In a case that drew strong protests from ordinary Thais, Mr Ampon wept in court and denied the charges.

“No one should be charged, tried, or imprisoned under these laws, and those already affected should be freed,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Asia researcher for Amnesty International

Particularly troubling, he added, is the provision that enables anyone to bring a charge of lese-majesty against anyone else.

The way the law is applied in Thailand is “clearly problematic and susceptible to abuse”, said Nicholas Grossman, chief editor of the new biography King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work.

“Many Thais try to protect the king,” Anand Panyarachun, a former Thai prime minister, said at the launch of Mr Grossman’s book. “In fact, we are doing a lot of damage to the monarchy, or even to the King himself”.

King Bhumibol, who turned 84 this week, has himself spoken out against the laws and regularly pardoned Thais convicted of lese-majesty. Legal experts estimate that nearly 480 charges of lese-majesty were sent to Thailand’s lower court last year, with the conviction rate running at more than 90 per cent.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011.

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08 December 2011

These disease-causing toxic products are part of your child's healthy balanced breakfast

Click Top Ten Worst 
Kids' Cereals to enlarge.

USA NGO / children's health research advocate
Wednesday 7 December 2011

Kids’ Cereals Pack More Sugar Than Twinkies and Cookies

More than three-quarters of the cereals assessed fail proposed federal nutrition standards

  • CONTACT: Sara Sciammacco: 202.667.6982 or ssciammacco@ewg.org
  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 7, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Parents have good reason to worry about the sugar content of children’s breakfast cereals, according to an Environmental Working Group review of 84 popular brands.

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, leads the list of the 10 worst children’s cereals, according to EWG’s analysis. In fact, a one-cup serving of the brand packs more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of the 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

In response to the exploding childhood obesity epidemic and aggressive food company advertising pitches to kids, Congress formed the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children to propose standards to Congress to curb marketing of kids’ foods with too much sugar, salt and fat.

But EWG has found that only one in four children’s cereals meets the government panel’s voluntary proposed guidelines, which recommend no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight. EWG has been calling for an even lower cap on the maximum amount of sugar in children’s cereals.

“When I went to medical school in the 1960s, the consensus view was sugar provided ‘empty calories’ devoid of vitamins, minerals or fiber,” said health expert Dr. Andrew Weil. “Aside from that, it was not deemed harmful. But 50 years of nutrition research has confirmed that sugar is actually the single most health-destructive component of the standard American diet. The fact that a children's breakfast cereal is 56 percent sugar by weight – and many others are not far behind – should cause national outrage.”

“Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign, and all kids will eat,” said noted NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle. “The cereals on the EWG highest-sugar list are among the most profitable for their makers, who back up their investment with advertising budgets of $20 million a year or more. No public health agency has anywhere near the education budget equivalent to that spent on a single cereal. Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast. They should be eating real food.”

“As a mom of two, I was stunned to discover just how much sugar comes in a box of children’s cereal,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG’s Senior Vice President of Research. “The bottom line: most parents would never serve dessert for breakfast, but many children’s cereals have just as much sugar, or more.”

Studies suggest that children who eat breakfasts that are high in sugar have more problems at school. They become more frustrated and have a harder time working independently than kids who eat lower-sugar breakfasts. By lunchtime they have less energy, are hungrier, show attention deficits and make more mistakes on their work.
About one in five American children is obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has reported that childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.

“It has been said that exploding rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in today's children will lead them to be the first in American history to have shorter lifespans than their parents,” Weil said. “That tragedy strikes me as a real possibility unless parents make some dramatic changes in their children's lives.”

“Nearly 20 percent of our children and one-third of adults in this country are obese. Our children face a future of declining health, and may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. We must provide consumers with the information they need to make healthier choices and prevent misleading claims about the nutritional contents of food,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).  
“Cereal is a prime example of this—we know that children do better in school if they have breakfast. But we also know that the type of breakfast matters. And yet, as the Environment Working Group’s report shows, many children’s cereals have sugar content levels that are above 40 percent by weight. Our children deserve better, and it is critical that we take action to combat America’s obesity epidemic.” 

Congresswoman DeLauro serves on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Food and Drug Administration and agriculture, where she oversees drug and food safety.
10 Worst Children’s Cereals
Based on percent sugar by weight
1.) Kellogg’s Honey Smacks 55.6%
2.) Post Golden Crisp 51.9%
3.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow 48.3%
4.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries 46.9%
5.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original 44.4%
6.) Quaker Oats Oh!s 44.4%
7.) Kellogg’s Smorz 43.3%
8.) Kellogg’s Apple Jacks 42.9%
9.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries 42.3%
10.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original 41.4%

Some cereals are better than others. Nutrition expert Marion Nestle recommends:
  1. Cereals with a short ingredient list (added vitamins and minerals are okay).
  2. Cereals high in fiber.
  3. Cereals with little or no added sugars (added sugars are ingredients such as honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and malt syrup).
Among the best simple-to-prepare breakfasts for children are fresh fruit and high-fiber, lower-sugar cereals. Better yet, pair fruit with homemade oatmeal.

03 December 2011

Jews News: The True Jews of Israel tell the Fake Jews of the Diaspora to go fuck themselves and stop abducting and violating the True Israeli Jews

 Click map to enlarge.

It comes as only a slight surprise to Vleeptron that a major agency of the Israeli government believes only Israeli Jews have worth and value, and Jews who are nationals of the USA are -- well, not real Jews, not kosher people.

God may have warm and fuzzy feelings for American Jews -- but the only Jews the Hebrew God truly loves and divinely connects with are Israelis.

Us Diaspora Jews, we're just low-rent, less holy Jews.

And we should know that and acknowledge that.

We should certainly stop trying to violate and contaminate Israelis of child-bearing age, and drag them to unholy Diaspora realms, and force the kids to live our pagan, unholy Christmukkah ways.

Probably Diaspora Jews who have chosen not to move to Israel and become Israeli citizens aren't REAL Jews at all. (Quite a few big orthodox rabbis in Israel preach that and try to enforce it in Israeli citizenship and marriage/divorce/custody law.)

I think somebody dropped this Israeli government agency on its head when it was a baby.

Okay, to reference a little theology ...

Yes, once upon a time, a long long time ago, the central rituals and sacrifices of Judaism were performed exclusively in Jerusalem, by two specific tribes of priests.

Jews who had strayed (or been abducted) far from Jerusalem could not receive the full extent of God's blessings and protections.

But the State of Israel / Eretz Yisrael, founded in 1948, no longer has central theological significance for Jewish worship. Geographical and political Israel is no longer central to the relationship between a Jew and God.

Ain't no priesthood anymore. Ain't no Temple anymore.

A Jew is equal in the eyes of God (if you believe in that kind of judgmental, personally responsive God) if he or she worships in Israel, Sheboygan Wisconsin, Sydney Australia, Salzburg Austria, Antarctica, or Low Earth Orbit.

Doubtless these lovely television ads were broadcast in Hebrew/Ivrit, and have been widely posted on YouTube by now, even though the Israeli government has withdrawn them.


This news story from the Israeli English-language daily newspaper Ha-aretz (The Land) contains the controversial government television advertisements.


Which Einstein came up with the plan guaranteed to make Jews all over the world hate and despise Israeli Jews? Was this the scheme of some future Prime Minister of Israel?

================

Agence France-Presse
newswire founded 1835
Earth's oldest news agency
Friday 2 December 2011


Israel pulls
'Don't Marry a USA Jew'
TV advertisements


The Israeli government has withdrawn an ad campaign after a rare backlash from major USA Jewish groups for appearing to urge [Israeli] expatriates not to marry American Jews or raise children in the United States.

The ads struck a nerve in a community that has long debated the nature of the Jewish identity and struggled with issues of assimilation, intermarriage and tensions between religious and secular Jews.

The first ad showed a young Israeli woman wincing after her American boyfriend mistakes candles and music marking Israel's solemn memorial day for a romantic night in.

A narrator intoned: "They will always remain Israelis. Their partners won't always understand what that means. Help them return to Israel."

A second ad showed shock flashing across the faces of a pair of Israeli grandparents when their granddaughter shouted "Christmas" in English when asked what holiday she was celebrating during a video chat.

This time the narrator said: "They will always remain Israelis. Their children won't."

The ad campaign -- which also included billboards in Hebrew urging Israelis to come home before their children started calling them "Daddy" instead of the Hebrew term "Abba" -- rippled through social media sites and was picked up by the Jewish Channel and a number of influential blogs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the ads be pulled "immediately" and a statement released by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, said the premier "deeply values the American Jewish community."

Ambassador Oren issued an apology for "any offense" caused by the ads, noting that while the campaign had the "laudable" aim of encouraging Israelis to return home, it "did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities."

It was also conducted "without the knowledge or approval of the prime minister's office or of the Israeli embassy in Washington," he said after the ads triggered outrage.

"I don't think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads," wrote Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic magazine.

Gal Beckerman in the Jewish Daily Forward [New York City] said: "The worst part about this campaign is that it points to something deeply defective in the Israeli psyche: the notion that fear is the only motivating factor that anyone can come up with for selling the country."

The Jewish Federations of North America sent a letter of protest to the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption calling the campaign's "messages that American Jews do not understand Israel deeply insulting and simply outrageous."

"We fear this campaign will only backfire, and rather than simply bringing Israelis back, will alienate and divide Diaspora Jews from Israel," wrote the umbrella group which represents 157 Jewish federations and over 300 network communities.

The campaign also drew the ire of the Anti-Defamation League, another prominent Jewish organisation.

"We find these videos heavy-handed, and even demeaning," national director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.

"While we appreciate the rationale behind the Israeli government's appeal to its citizens living in the US to return to Israel, we are concerned that some may be offended by what the video implies about American Jewry."

The ministry initially defended the decision to launch a campaign "touching the fine nerves of Israelis and their identity."

In a statement issued to AFP late Thursday, it said that the campaign was not directed at the Jewish community in the United States or any other diaspora. It did not, however, directly address the implied insult.

"The recent claims, according to which the Israeli government is attempting to intervene in the personal choices of US Jews or to discount their lifestyle, has no connection to reality," the ministry said.

"The Immigration Absorption Ministry cherishes and values the Jewish community in the US, and acknowledges its strong bond with Israel. The ministry respects the right of each individual to their personal choices, and does not consider them its business."

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30 November 2011

You got hosed, and the Fed and the Big Banks fought to keep it secret from you / They're laughing all the way to the bank

Every penny which the US Federal Reserve Bank loaned secretly to these giant private-sector for-profit "too-big-to-fail" banks is US taxpayer money -- and yet when Bloomberg News sought the amounts and details of these secret loans under the Freedom of Information Act, the Fed claimed, all the way to the US Supreme Court, that it had the right to keep these massive cut-rate cash loans secret from the American public.

It's your money. It's none of your fucking business whom the Federal Reserve Board gives it to, and under what circumstances.

Who the fuck are you, a taxpayer? Who gives a shit? The Fed works for the giant banks.

=================

Bloomberg News 
financial/investment-oriented newswire USA
Tuesday 29 November 2011

Banks made billion$
on secret Federal
Reserve loans
by Bob Ivry, Bradley Keoun, Phil Kuntz

The Federal Reserve [USA central bank] and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. 

Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required emergency loans of a combined U$1,200,000,000,000 [U$1.2 trillion] on 5 December 2008, their single neediest day.

Bankers didn't mention that they took tens of billions of dollars at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated U$13,000,000,000 of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market interest rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the 2007-2010 bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

While Fed officials say that almost all the loans were repaid without losses, details that emerge from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.

Dwarfed TARP loans

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court battle against the Fed and a group of the biggest banks called Clearing House Association LLC. The amount of money the central bank parceled out dwarfed the Treasury Department's better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Few people were aware of this, partly because bankers didn't disclose the extent of their borrowing.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon told shareholders in March 2010 that his bank used the Fed's Term Auction Facility "at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system."

He didn't say that the bank's total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48,000,000,000 came more than a year after the program's creation.

On Nov. 26, 2008, Bank of America's then-CEO Kenneth Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed "one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world." He didn't say that Bank of America owed the Fed $86,000,000,000 that day. Bank of America's borrowing peaked at $91,400,000,000 in February 2009.

Spokesmen for JPMorgan and Bank of America declined to comment.
 
Shoring up banks

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben Bernanke, has been lending money to banks since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities.

By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to financial firms that couldn't get short-term loans from their usual sources.

"Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks," said William English, director of the Fed's Division of Monetary Affairs. "Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses."

The central bank initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Who borrowed and how much were kept from public view.

The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt. Morgan Stanley was the top borrower with a peak of $107,000,000,000 on 28 September 2009.

That was eight days after then-CEO John Mack said the firm was "in the strongest possible position." Mark Lake, a spokesman for the bank, declined to comment.

With the help of the Fed's secret loans, America's largest financial firms got bigger during the crisis. Part of the boost came from a hidden subsidy -- the Fed's below-market interest rates. The subsidy can be estimated using a figure banks call "net interest margin."

It's the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing cost. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during the time they took emergency loans.

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13,000,000,000, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show. Citigroup Inc. would have taken in the most, with $1,800,000,000 .

Assets grew
Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on 30 September 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

The big six -- JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley -- took 63 percent of the Fed's emergency-loan money as measured by peak daily borrowing, the data show.

Combined, the six spent $29,400,000 on lobbying in 2010, a 33 percent increase from 2006, according to OpenSecrets.org. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued that bigger banks are more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cause "long-term damage to the U.S. economy," according to a November 2009 letter to Congress from the Financial Services Forum, an advocacy group made up of the CEOs of 20 of the largest financial firms.

Then-Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., countered that some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system.

So-called too-big-to-fail banks have an advantage over smaller firms: Their borrowing costs are lower because lenders believe the government won't let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard -- the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they'll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.
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