May 25th, 2012
Conservative Refocus Notes: Well, we get the gist of this article, however, "Corporate News?" As if the media is of the same brand as your typical corporation? We don't think so, in fact,corporations and the media are at continual odds as bespeaks ideology, at least in large part. But all of that aside , this story speaks volumes in its portent.
Corporate news blackout as Obama designates John Brennan as the sole person in charge of designating people to be assassinated.
Vision to America
John Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor was a name that you did not see on the Mainstream media today as the continue to run stories that serve to distract the masses from stories that matter.
Most recently he publicly spoke about the drone program calling it moral and ethical and just.
According to reports from the Associated Press, John Brennan has now seized the lead in choosing who will be targeted for drone attacks and raids and Obama has delegated him the sole authority to designate people for assassination under the United States top-secret assassination program.
Yes, if it such a secret program then why is the associated press running a story on it? Because it is only a “top-secret” matter of National Insecurity when the public and organizations such as the ACLU request more details on it than the propagandized reports the public is fed through the corporate media.
May 24th, 2012
By Jennifer Viegas
Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.
Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.
The latter period occurred during “the years when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when the earthquake of the Gospel of Matthew is historically constrained,” Williams said.
"The day and date of the crucifixion (Good Friday) are known with a fair degree of precision," he said. But the year has been in question.
In terms of textual clues to the date of the crucifixion, Williams quoted a Nature paper authored by Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington. Williams summarized their work as follows:
- All four gospels and Tacitus in Annals (XV, 44) agree that the crucifixion occurred when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36.
- All four gospels say the crucifixion occurred on a Friday.
- All four gospels agree that Jesus died a few hours before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath (nightfall on a Friday).
- The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) indicate that Jesus died before nightfall on the 14th day of Nisan, right before the start of the Passover meal.
- John’s gospel differs from the synoptics, apparently indicating that Jesus died before nightfall on the 15th day of Nisan.
When data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday, April 3, 33, being the best match, according to the researchers.
In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”
“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.
Williams is studying yet another possible natural happening associated with the crucifixion — darkness.
Three of the four canonical gospels report darkness from noon to 3 p.m. after the crucifixion. Such darkness could have been caused by a duststorm, he believes.
Williams is investigating if there are dust storm deposits in the sediments coincident with the earthquake that took place in the Jerusalem region during the early first century.
More from Discovery News
May 24th, 2012
Half of Detroit’s Streetlights May Go Out as City Shrinks
Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.
As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.
Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit’s plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.
“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”
Detroit’s dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because streetlights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city, said Kirk Cheyfitz, co-founder of a project called Detroit143 -- named for the 139 square miles of land, plus water -- that publicizes neighborhood issues.
“It touches kids going to school in the dark,” said Cheyfitz, chief executive of Story Worldwide Ltd., a New York marketing company. “It touches midnight Mass at a church. It touches businesses that want to stay open past 9 p.m.”
Bing in 2010 began an independent project called Detroit Works to sort ideas on how to reconfigure the city for residences, businesses, green space and even agriculture, a plan due in August.
Meantime, Brown said, the city will fix broken streetlights in certain places even as it discontinues such services as street and sidewalk repairs in “distressed” areas -- those with a high degree of blight and little or no commercial activity.
Bing’s plan requires state legislation to create the lighting authority. Governor Rick Snyder supports the plan, said his senior policy adviser, Valerie Brader.
There’s already experience snuffing out streetlights within Detroit’s borders. Highland Park, a 3-square-mile city encircled by its larger neighbor, removed 1,100 of 1,600 streetlights last year, after piling up a $4 million debt to DTE Energy. The move saves $45,000 a month, said Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, a spokesman for the company.
Only major streets and intersections remain lit in the city of 12,000, once home to Chrysler Group LLC’s namesake car manufacturer and Henry Ford’s first moving assembly line. Mayor DeAndre Windom, 45, said residents at first complained, though few do now. He’s considering grants and private funding to relight darkened streets
Colorado Springs pulled the plug on 9,000 of its 25,600 lights in 2010 to save $1.3 million, said David Krauth, a city traffic engineer. Some were relit as revenue improved, though 3,500 remain dark, saving about $500,000 a year, he said.
In Detroit, some streets have no working lights. Many appear dim or are blocked by trees. And some areas with mostly vacant lots are well-lit.
A single, broken streetlight on the northeast side brings fear to Cynthia Perry, 55. It hasn’t worked for six years, Perry said in an interview on the darkened sidewalk where she walks from her garage to her house entrance.
“I’m afraid coming in at night,” she said. “I’m not going to seclude myself in the house and never go anywhere.”
In southwest Detroit, businesses on West Vernor Highway, a main commercial thoroughfare, have sought $4 million in private grants to fix the situation themselves. The state would pay $2.5 million, said Kathy Wendler, president of the Southwest Detroit Business Association.
Jamahl Makled, 40, said he’s owned businesses in southwest Detroit for about two decades, most recently cell-phone stores. He said they’ve have been burglarized more than a dozen times.
“In the dark, criminals are comfortable,” Makled said. “It’s not good for the economy and the safety of the residents.”
North of there, on a stretch of West Grand Boulevard, the bases of light poles show where thieves tore out the wiring.
As many as 15,000 Detroit streetlights use 1920s technology, according to a 2010 study by McKinsey & Co. Upgrading the system would cost $140 million to $200 million, and $5 million more to operate than the $23 million now spent annually, the report said.
Besides streetlights, the Detroit lighting department provides electricity to 144 customers that include Detroit schools, Wayne State University and local government offices. Almost 22 percent of the city’s electric bills were unpaid, the McKinsey report said.
That’s just one reason Detroit is digging out of a $265 million deficit and saddled with more than $12 billion in long- term debt. To avoid a state takeover, Detroit agreed in April to have its finances overseen by a nine-member board appointed by the city and the state.
Delivering services to a thinly spread population is expensive. Some 20 neighborhoods, each a square mile or more, are only 10 to 15 percent occupied, said John Mogk, a law professor at Wayne State University who specializes in urban law and policy. He said the city can’t force residents to move, and it’s almost impossible under Michigan law for the city to seize properties for development.
Mogk said landowners can demand many times what property would fetch on the open market.
“There are tremendous political, administrative, financial and, to some degree, legal obstacles,” Mogk said. “Unless you phase out a neighborhood altogether, you still need lighting, and waste pickup and police and fire protection.”
As Detroit’s streets go dark, some of those neighborhoods may fade away with the dying light.
More From Bloomberg
May 24th, 2012
By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa magic that launched Barack Obama to the presidency four years ago has all but faded.
Soured by the direction of the nation and its economy, Iowa has drifted away from Obama since his 2008 caucus victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton made him the Democratic front-runner. And while he carried the state in the general election by a comfortable margin that year, polls this year have shown voters narrowly preferring Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who plans to wage his own major effort in Iowa.
Today, the Democrat who emerged Cinderella-like with a hope-filled message four years ago is sharply attacking Romney's economic credentials and his ability to grasp voters' everyday concerns.
Obama's visit Thursday to blue-collar Newton, Iowa, and his Des Moines campaign rally near where Romney once declared that corporations are people, underscored the president's own vulnerability with working-class voters and his effort to identify with the middle class.
While offering only six of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, how Iowa voters ultimately judge Obama is expected to be an important factor in the race.
"Last time it was a lot more exciting. It was a new thing," said Nancy Bobo, a Des Moines Obama volunteer and one of his earliest Iowa backers in 2008. "Today, we're all just very serious."
Obama was visiting a former Maytag Corp. appliance plant in Newton, a town devastated by the plant's closing in 2005. The plant now houses TPI Composites, a wind-turbine blade manufacturer.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has made the struggling economy the centerpiece of his campaign. But Obama can point to comparatively low 5.1 percent unemployment in Iowa, where stable financial services and strong agriculture sectors buoyed the economy while manufacturing has struggled to rebound.
Obama's Des Moines rally, his first in Iowa since announcing his candidacy for re-election, is symbolically set for the Iowa State Fairgrounds, within steps of where Romney declared last year that "corporations are people."
Romney made the comment as he argued against raising taxes as a way of shoring up Social Security and Medicare.
Members of the audience interrupted, calling for increased taxes on corporations, and Romney responded: "Corporations are people, my friend. ... Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people."
The comment has been used by opponents to characterize Romney, a former private equity firm executive, as more comfortable in the boardroom than the shop floor.
Obama's campaign has emphasized episodes in which Romney's former firm closed plants and laid off workers, and has aired a stinging TV ad on the subject in Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Obama himself has struggled to attract blue-collar voters, keys to winning struggling swing working-class regions such as southeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania and rural Iowa. Newton is the seat of Jasper County, Iowa, where unemployment was 7.1 percent in April, higher than Iowa's average but down sharply from last winter.
While Iowa is known for its first-in-the-nation caucuses, it also is a coveted general election state, despite its small electoral total. Democrat Al Gore carried the state by less than a percentage point in 2000, followed by Republican George W. Bush's 2-point victory in 2004.
The state shows a candidate's ability to win support in the heartland. It could help Romney in his effort to peel back states Obama won in 2008, or help Obama put Romney away.
Obama has already spent more than $2.6 million on advertising, a pace as aggressive as in any other battleground state. He's been a regular visitor, and was making his second trip in a month.
Yet the president's approval rating here has been stuck below 50 percent for over two years, softened in part by criticism from Republicans campaigning for Iowa's leadoff caucuses.
Republican Terry Branstad took back the governorship easily from Democrat Chet Culver in 2010, as the GOP won back the state House and came close in the Senate.
Polls show Iowans also have become increasingly bothered by federal spending, an issue Romney stoked in Des Moines last week in a visit where he promised to shrink the deficit.
Iowans, many of whom met Obama in the 2008 campaign, also are disappointed by what they hoped would be a transcendent presidency, said J. Ann Selzer, the longtime director of The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll.
"You hear disaffection. You hear them say, 'This isn't what I paid for,'" Selzer said. "The guy they sent there to recast things wasn't able to do it."
And Romney senses the opening.
He, too, has cultivated an Iowa network. Indeed, he campaigned aggressively for the 2008 caucuses during his narrowly losing bid for the state's delegates. And Romney's campaign has begun running television ads in Iowa.
Romney and the Republican National Committee have hired state directors and are hiring staff to run a dozen or more offices planned for Iowa.
While Obama campaigned here, Romney spent Thursday visiting an inner city charter school in west Philadelphia. Romney was to spend the weekend in La Jolla, Calif., with his family.
- Obama talks green energy in Iowa
KCCI Des Moines - 4 minutes ago
- On the scene: President Obama's event in Newton
DesMoinesRegister.com (blog) - 1 hour ago
- President Obama Calls for Wind Tax Credit Extension
KUNC - 2 hours ago
May 24th, 2012
By Tom Perry and Tom Pfeiffer
CAIRO (Reuters) – Millions of Egyptians, choosing their leader freely for the first time in their history, voted on Thursday with the Muslim Brotherhood saying their candidate had an early lead over fellow Islamists and rivals who served ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Counting started after polls closed at 9 p.m. (08:00 p.m. British time) with no reliable exit polls available. The Brotherhood said on its television channel that its candidate Mohamed Mursi was ahead based on the tally from some districts.
The influential Islamist group, with its well-organised support base, had been expected to do well. Other candidates claimed to be ahead in a handful of areas, but the overall picture will not be clear for some time.
After six decades under military-backed rule, Egypt’s 50 million eligible voters were choosing whether to entrust the nation to an Islamist president for the next four years, alongside the Islamist-led parliament they elected earlier.
But secular figures such as ex-Arab League chief Amr Moussa, 75, and Mubarak’s last premier Ahmed Shafiq, 70, are in with a chance, appealing to Egyptians wary of radical change.
If no one wins more than half the votes needed for outright victory in Wednesday and Thursday’s first round, the top two candidates will contest a June 16 and 17 run-off.
Egyptians seemed increasingly polarised between those determined to avoid handing the presidency back a man from Mubarak’s era and those fearing an Islamist monopoly of ruling institutions.
Some voiced fears of a backlash on the streets, particularly if Shafiq, who like Mubarak was air force commander, triumphs. Protesters hurled stones and shoes at Shafiq when he voted in Cairo on Wednesday.
“If Shafiq or Moussa wins, they will create a revolution. Everyone will go down to Tahrir again,” said one voter, Sherif Abdelaziz, 30, who backs the Brotherhood’s Mursi, referring to the square in central Cairo where mass protests have been held.
Shafiq and Mursi supporters clashed in a village north of Cairo on Thursday, wounding five people, police sources said.
A page on Facebook, a medium used to devastating effect against Mubarak, was launched on Thursday threatening a “revolution if Moussa or Shafiq wins”.
The mother of Khaled Said, the activist whose death in 2010 at the hands of police helped galvanise anti-Mubarak protests, also derided “feloul”, or remnants of the old order.
“If any of the feloul win, it would be because the vote was rigged. Egyptians will never retreat from their revolution,” Said’s mother Leila told Reuters by telephone.
Mursi, 60, was pitched into the race after the Brotherhood’s first choice was disqualified. His main Islamist rival is ex-Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, 60.
Leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, 57, is a dark horse in the race.
As evening fell, Moussa made an 11th-hour appeal for Egyptians to head to the polls.
“Grab the chance of the last few hours to go down. It is vital that they vote … Go down, take part in building the new Egypt,” he said, walking near his campaign office.
He stopped to shake hands with motorists stuck in the jam created by the scene. “It’s the president,” shouted one woman.
Some voters voice disappointment with the performance of parliament, where the Brotherhood’s party has the biggest bloc. The assembly has been unable to assert itself over the government appointed by the generals who took over from Mubarak.
Alarmed by rising crime, disorder and a failing economy, some Egyptians favour a man with government or military experience, even if he harks back to the Mubarak era.
In an angry exchange as voting drew to a close, Moussa accused Shafiq of underhand methods and spreading “lies” that he had quit the race, saying Shafiq should withdraw himself.
Shafiq responded: “How can I pull out if all the voting centres say Amr Moussa is finished and … has no chance?”
Voters queued patiently, determined not to miss their chance to influence the first round. Election consultant Ossama Kamel said there were fewer abuses than in the parliamentary poll that ended in January, partly because of lessons learned then.
“We have seen a lot better control of campaigning on election day than during the parliamentary vote when there were lots of violations, with candidates and their supporters hustling people outside polling stations,” he told Reuters.
The vote marks a crucial stage in a turbulent army-led transition racked by protests, violence and political disputes. The generals who took charge when Mubarak was ousted on February 11, 2011, have pledged to hand over to the new president by July 1.
Even then the army, whose grip reaches deep into government and the economy, is likely to wield influence for years to come. A tussle over who should write the constitution also means the new president will not know his own powers when he is elected.
Egyptians accustomed to the routinely forged votes of Mubarak’s era have relished the uncertainty of the election.
“This is the first time we can really choose our president and no one will mess with the result,” said Ahmed Shaltout, a 36-year-old lawyer who said he would vote for Mursi.
The next president will face huge tasks in reviving Egypt’s wilting economy and restoring security. The sprawling police force, which virtually collapsed during the anti-Mubarak revolt, is only a shadow of its once-feared presence.
Security is Shafiq’s strongest card. A former aviation minister, he was appointed prime minister days before Mubarak fell and quit soon afterwards in response to popular protests.
He is also favoured by many of Egypt’s 10 percent Christian minority, fearful of the rising power of Islamists.
“We all need a president who will curb the Islamist or any other non-moderate current in society. Shafiq can do this because he will be a powerful president,” said Samuel George, a Christian in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city.
Mubarak, 84, is contemplating the spectacle of a free election from the upscale Cairo hospital where he is confined while on trial for ordering the killing of protesters and for corruption. A verdict is due on June 2, two weeks before any presidential run-off. A death sentence is possible but unlikely.
(Additional reporting by Marwa Awad; Writing by Samia Nakhoul and Edmund Blair; Editing by Giles Elgood)