Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There are many differences between the Obama presidency and the reign of George Bush the II. One of them is that if someone had done this during the Bush II presidency, they would have been water-boarded in the search for co-conspirators, then locked up in a foreign prison beyond the reach of the United States' Constitution.

According to the Los Angeles Times and numerous other sources, "The Secret Service launched an investigation into a Facebook poll asking if President Obama should be assassinated." The paper reported that "The question, "Should Obama be killed?" had received 730 responses since its posting on Saturday. The four possible answers: Yes. Maybe. If he cuts my healthcare. No."

Wow! Bush engendered a heckuva lot of hostility, be wethinks nobody was getting away with that without facing the wrath of Dick Cheney.

Read the whole story here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Italian Stallion

Regular readers know that the Clarion Content loves to tweak American politicians for their sexual shenanigans. But we know even California has nothing on Italy when it comes to the scandalous sex stories. This one goes all the way to the top, implicating sleazy, media-dominating, criminally despotic, Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

According to the UK's Daily Telegraph five women were paid more than $1000 each per night to attend dinner parties at the Italian prime minister's lavish residence spend the night and offer the prime minister sexual services. The news surfaced at the trial of Gianpaolo Tarantini, who is being investigated in the southern port city of Bari, Italy on charges of providing women for prostitution. According to the Telegraph, Tarantini testified, "that between September 2008 and January 2009, he recruited Italian and foreign girls, including some from Eastern Europe, to attend the gatherings. They were flown to Rome, put up in hotels and taken to Mr Berlusconi's imposing mansion, Palazzo Grazioli." There were more than eighteen dinner parties total. Tarantini told Italian investigators that he had arranged for the women to attend with the hope that the aging prime minister would help him secure a business contract with Italy's Civil Protection agency, a national emergency services organization.

Read more here. Its dirty. To think Italy is in NATO, the G-20, the EU, etc. Continuing to sanction this kind of corruption indicts Italy and all the organizations it participates in, making it significantly more difficult for these bodies to attack state-sanctioned corruption elsewhere.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thanks again, America

We are quite sure that is not what Iraqis are thinking. "Thanks again America for stopping by. Appreciate ya," not exactly likely after more than 100,00 civilian deaths America disgustingly and callously labeled "collateral damage." Now there is another reason for Iraqis to be far less than grateful for the tsunami of destruction that America unleashed on their country, "shock and awe," indeed.

The Associated Press is reporting that a massive wave of violent and deadly crime is sweeping across Iraq. Kidnappings, murders and armed robberies have increased dramatically. The AP notes that it is largely being precipitated by well armed former insurgents, whom as we recall, America birthed via Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz's ingenious decision to disband the Iraqi army and send them home armed and jobless. The Iraqi government, divided against itself, and still fighting car bombings and the like in Baghdad, Mosul and elsewhere hardly has the time or verve to do anything about the crime wave.

The Associated Press notes that next to the lack of electricity and clean water, crime has become one of Iraqis' biggest complaints. America has shown it has the power to take a 2nd world state and drop it deeply into the 3rd world. However, as American policymakers already should have known from Vietnam and Somalia, America and outsiders are incapable of building such states back to stability.

Read more here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

SEC considering banning flash trading

What you mean those with the most information about the stock market shouldn't be able to sell an exclusive ability to privileged clients to place their trades before the general public? You don't say?

But that is what the SEC is considering! Last week SEC commissioners unanimously voted to consider banning the practice known as flash trading, a notoriously rigged insider game that governments and most financial services honchos have blithely ignored for years. Nasdaq banned the practice last month. The London Stock Exchange recently eliminated a policy that encouraged it.

Flash trading may account for as much as 50% of market volume. Troublingly enough no one really knows for certain. It is a computing and algorithmic arms race that is going on beneath the conscious eye of the public that introduces real systemic risk, (and apocalyptic visions of machines gone haywire.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mafia Dumping

The BBC reports that a shipwreck (not pictured) potentially containing toxic waste is being investigated by Italian authorities amidst claims that it was deliberately sunk by the Mafia. The story caught the Clarion Content's eye because we have heard rumblings about the Mafia dumping chemical and nuclear waste in connection with East African piracy. This is a slightly different tale because according to the BBC the sunken ship was found 18 miles off of the southwestern coast of Italy.

Apparently, this is but the tip of the iceberg of what may have happened. The BBC says, "An informant from the Calabrian Mafia said the ship was one of a number he blew up as part of an illegal operation to bypass laws on toxic waste disposal." Italian officials said there may be as many as thirty other scuttled vessels.

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poorest workers hit hardest

The long fight for fairness for the American worker is nowhere near over.

There was bad news from the New York Times last week. It reported that a comprehensive examination low wage workers, found that 68% of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week. The survey had nearly 4,400 participants. The survey determined that the average worker had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations, out of weekly earnings of $339, almost 15% of their earnings. One quarter of the workers had been paid less than the minimum wage, one in seven had worked off the clock. Three quarters of those who had worked overtime the week before were not paid their properly for it.

The survey also found that only 8% of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for workers compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work due to those injuries.

Worse yet, the survey was conducted last year before the brunt of the current economic slump took hold. Anecdotal reports indicate the situation has only worsened.

Read the whole article here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

So that's how it is in California

Well, well, well, if California isn't the forefront of American culture again! In this case with a slimy scandal in its State Legislature, where although Caly is a trendsetter, it is not alone in corruption. State Legislatures nationwide have run amok. Their power of patronage, more in making laws than appointments, has the opportunity to sway billions of dollars on the balance sheets of various industries. It is no surprise these industries and interests hire lobbyists to push their positions, a great deal of money is at stake, they want to have a say. The Clarion Content's possible solution set: redistricting via algorithms, district-by-district citizen watchdogs, term limits, higher pay for State Legislators.

Here is what happened in California where the seamy, slithered to the surface of the cesspool. The Associated Press reports 54-year-old lawmaker, married California Assemblyman, Mike Duvall is caught in a recording of a legislative hearing, "bragging in graphic detail about having sex with a female lobbyist and another woman..."I'm getting into spanking her," Duvall is heard to say on the videotape.

The other man asks if she likes it, too. Duvall responds: "She goes, 'I know you like spanking me.' I said, 'Yeah, that's 'cause you're such a bad girl.' Duvall said he joked with the lobbyist that she was getting old after turning 36 and told her, "I am going to have to trade you in...the lawmaker then brags about an affair he is having with another woman.

"Oh, she is hot! I talked to her yesterday. She goes, 'So are we finished?' I go, 'No, we're not finished.' I go, 'You know about the other one, but she doesn't know about you!'" Duvall can be heard saying in an apparent reference to his affair with the lobbyist."

Ah, California, America's cultural beacon, home of her reality TV shows, her defense industry and Silicon Valley. Assemblyman Mike Duvall represents an Orange County district that includes Orange, Anaheim, Fullerton, and Yorba Linda. He is yet another in the long line of Larry Craig, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, "okay for me, not okay for you" Theoconservatives. The Associated Press reports, "Duvall received a 100 percent rating from Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative advocacy group, for his votes on legislation considered pro-family during the 2007-08 legislative session."

The AP says, "Several media outlets reported the lobbyist Duvall refers to in his comments works for Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based energy services company that operates San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Gas Co. Sempra issued an e-mail statement saying it was investigating the claims."

Assemblyman Duvall was vice chairman of the utilities committee.

Read the whole story here.

Our Afghan Policy position

Give Peace a chance!

We wish to clarify a piece we wrote on the front page recently, "No Gain." (For those of you haven't been following our discussion with the M'Rock in the comments.)

We believe America and its allies should rapidly and massively draw down their forces in Afghanistan to a level of small counterinsurgency ops only, while supplying significant development aid, especially for literacy and modern irrigation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vegas baby?

The Clarion Content has run a series of articles on how widespread the impact of the massive economic downturn in the world economy has been. The last one was on how the normally countercyclical industries of vice, including porn, haven't been exempt from this huge slump. Logically enough, the countercyclical locales are struggling as much as their industries, even Las Vegas.

The Los Angeles Times says that the Vegas model, "which was to tap into an ever-expanding supply of free-spending visitors clamoring for first-class hotel rooms, four-star restaurant fare and high-priced shows, has been shattered by its worst recession in decades." They report that convention business is down about 27% from a year ago. Las Vegas tourist visits in general, after years of record setting new highs, have now declined for two years in a row, and this year look set to drop all the way back to 1999 levels.

The good news is there are deals for visitors all over the Las Vegas landscape. The LA Times reports that even the priciest of the luxury events and accommodations in Vegas are offering deep discounts. They cite the example of the normally $500/night Bellagio hotel offering rooms for as little as $90/night. Even the legendary Cirque du Soleil and some of the city's fanciest restaurants have been offering massively reduced prices.

Sounds like if you have got the duckets it is a great time to head to Vegas, baby!

Serial Killer: Milwaukee police solve a cold case

Working on what they called "shoe leather and science" Milwaukee police have connected a local man, Walter E. Ellis, 49, to the murders of as many as nine women. Eight of the victims were African-American prostitutes who were strangled, two were also stabbed. The ninth victim was a white 16-year-old runaway whose throat was slashed, and though Ellis's DNA was identified on her body, police are unsure if he was the actual killer. All of the women were killed in a small area of Milwaukee bounded by N. King Drive, N. 27th St., W. North Ave. and W. Capitol Drive.

The police knew that the victims were likely from the same serial killer when DNA matches started to pop up back in 2007. The DNA found did not match any samples in state or federal databases. Reportedly they received as many as 193 tips in its first three months of operation. As they worked through them Ellis's name was linked to several of the cases. Friday they executed a search warrant on his apartment while he was not home, taking his toothbrush and razors. Tests at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory showed DNA matches. Saturday his vehicle was spotted in the parking lot of a local motel and police descended. He was apprehended after a brief struggle.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In two of the homicides linked to Ellis, other men had been charged in the slayings. Curtis McCoy was charged in October 1994 with killing Carron Kilpatrick, 32, his live-in girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, but he was later acquitted by a jury. Chaunte Ott was convicted of killing Jessica Payne, the 16-year-old runaway. Ott served 13 years in prison before he was released in January, after DNA analysis showed semen found on the girl's body was not his."

Read the whole story here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Six months

England convicted three men of plotting to blow up planes on flights between Britain and the United States and Canada. The plan was to blow up planes with liquid explosives in soft-drink bottles.

English justice is not American justice
. Punishment is far less punitive and severe. If the convicted Lockerbie bomber who has been freed and is home in Libya is any indication, these guys will be out in six months. After all the Lockerbie bomber was convicted of killing 270 people, these guys were only found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

On the other hand, English justice is not American justice. The rights of the defendant are far slimmer. These men were convicted on their second trial for the same crime. That's double jeopardy in America. These men are going away on a majority verdict of 11 to 1. That's a hung jury in America.

If the deconstructionists have convinced the Clarion Content of anything, it is that the law is always gray.