27 April 2015

Update no.697

Update from the Heartland
20.4.15 – 26.4.15
To all,

Quite a few folks noted the neglect of my website . . . last updated in 2007.  The reasons for such neglect are moot and otherwise irrelevant; they are what they are and history.  Having sent away the manuscript submittal package for Book IV of my To So Few series of historical novels, I worked with a professional web developer to produce a new website with a more up-to-date appearance, accessibility and currency of the content.  Some have reported problems communicating with me via eMail this week; I expect the problems were an artifact of the transition to the new host servers.  I urge everyone to visit, browse the content, and offer whatever constructive criticism may come to you.  
The editing tools available with the new website are immensely easier to use, thus we should all expect the new site to remain current henceforth, as my new books are released for publication.  Suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

The follow-up news items:
-- The Justice Department announced the arrest of Navinder Sarao by U.K. authorities and charges against Sarao for fraud, manipulation and a high-speed trading practice known as ‘spoofing,’ The charges allege Sarao was the principal contributor (root cause) of the 6.May.2010 “flash crash” in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1000 points [438, 459].  I trust he shall feel the full weight of the law and join his fellow traveler Bernie Madoff [365, 378].  Greed that causes destruction is NOT good, despite what Gordon Gekko professed (1987).
-- Former Director of Central Intelligence General David Howell Petraeus, USA (Ret.) [USMA 1974] [569, 570] pleaded guilty to a charge of mishandling classified materials he provided to his former mistress and biographer.  Under a plea deal, he is expected to face a fine and probation, but no prison time.

Comments and contributions from Update no.696:
Comment to the Blog:
“It's good to see at least a few of the Blackwater criminals get long sentences.
“I pay my taxes without complaint, and I share the desire to see them used well. The fact that people in the U.S. pay less taxes than those in civilized nations means that we need to make difficult decisions about how that money should be spent. I probably seek a different balance than you, but I certainly agree that those who ‘seek to scam or take advantage of our generosity’ should be stopped. To that end, we probably need to stop most corporate tax breaks and to begin taxing the wealthy at a rate fair to the rest of us. That remains unlikely so long as campaign spending knows no limits. Have you noticed that the Koch Brothers plan to spend $900 billion on the upcoming Presidential election cycle? That's obscene, but I'm sure they will make a good investment of it if their properties win enough elections.
“Speaking of government priorities, I find it sad that the United States government has foregone its legitimate support of science and technology, including space science. A few of those privatized enterprises may succeed in making money, but the control and the prestige will be lost to the people as a whole.
“I doubt it helps much, but you have the nation's sympathy about living in a Kansas that has gone insane. I hope less for mercy than for the total absence of any enforcement effort of the new law on TANF money. Kansas nowadays has no money for such nonsense even if it were possible to enforce such a law effectively. The Brownback regime passed that thing mainly to reinforce the governor's claim to extreme conservatism, or possibly to set up an insanity plea should he be held accountable.
“In any territorial dispute, sooner or later one of the parties seeks to cement its claim. Apparently, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has done that in the case of the many-named island in the South China Sea. That would be part of the PRC's wider effort to fill the open place of world leader that the U.S. has vacated in favor of plutocracy. Foreign ownership of U.S. investments, even government bonds, is another facet of this change.
“Operation Paperclip probably benefited the United States as a whole, at least for a time. Discussing the ethics of spy operations is a waste of time. Secrecy precludes any real ethical limits. All parties confidently expected that they would not be called to account for their actions during their lifetimes. They were correct in the case of Operation Paperclip.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: Blackwater.  ‘Nuf said.
            Re: taxes.  I suspect you meant million rather than billion, but no matter how many zero’s . . . a hellava lot of money – an obscene amount of money, all to buy influence.  I further suspect they will simply write off those campaign expenditures as business “expenses” and thus diminish their period profit and thus their corporate taxes, i.e., We, the People, are paying for their largess and influence purchases.  Somehow, Citizens United must be overcome.
            Re: USG funding science & technology.  Agreed.  The primary advantage of public funding of such endeavors is the outcome or product(s) are in the public domain, which means the most people benefit.  One of my biggest such projects is embryonic stem cell research.
            Re: Brownback.  Spot on!
            Re: PRC.  Again, spot on!  They subscribe to the theory that “possession is 9/10 of the law.”  Salient question: where will their neighbors draw the line?  What is too much?
            Re: Operation PAPERCLIP.  OK, no argument.  Nolo Contendere.
 . . . follow-up comment:
“I was unable to send an email response, so this will have to do.
“I did indeed mean to say that the Koch Brothers are spending $900 million,  (not billion) on the election cycle. This is more than a write-off; investing in politicians has a very strong return on investment for large  investors.”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            I hope the problem has not been on my end.  I have been working to get my new website up & running.  Looks good, but I have had problems with my eMail over the last few days as servers were switched over.  So things should be back to normal soon.  I will make an announcement in this week’s Update.
            Yes, you are quite right.  My only point is, at least the part they write off as a business expense is ultimately paid for by the taxpayers.  Their benefit vastly exceeds the dollars they spend, such is the world of the money elite (or perhaps more appropriately, the money royalty) of this country.  I suspect there will be a correction in time.
 . . . a follow-up comment to the follow-up:
“This is mostly a test email to see if it will send.
“However, the ‘correction in time’ part has always somehow come from the public on one guise or another disrupting the oligarchy, plutocracy, or monarchy that was in place. Often enough, that does not happen and the nation in question deteriorates into a lesser entity.”
 . . . my follow-up response to the follow-up comment:
            Appeared to come through just fine.  I believe the problems of transition are behind me.
            I understand and appreciate your observation.  However, I shall offer a contrarian perspective.  With mounting signs of abuse, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act [PL 51-I-647; 26 Stat. 209] on 2.July.1890.  It took the USG another 20 years to break up the Standard Oil monopoly – Standard Oil v. United States [221 U.S. 1 (1911)], 15.May.1911.  Some could argue it took 90 years – break-up of AT&T on 1.January.1984.  The process did not lessen us.  We will overcome the obstacles we face today.

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)