October 2009 Archives

Healthcare as infrastructure

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Arguing affordability is bunk. No family is lacking insurance for their kids or themselves because of sloth or an inability to prioritize their budget. Its simply that insurance is now unaffordable not just for individuals and families, but for businesses and in fact for the society as whole.

Here is the point. As a capitalist society, we have long recognized the value and need of publicly funding a government supported infrastructure to allow the free flow of commerce - railroads, highways, running water... - when are we going to realize that government healthcare is part of the infrastructure that supports our capitalist society? Most other countries have come to realize that healthcare should not be treated as a market commodity, but rather as part of the infrastructure of maintaining a functioning society.

What is the sense in having 30 cents of every dollar spent on health go into profits for insurance companies who themselves provides no healthcare, but instead act as impediments to what healthcare delivery there is because they are motivated by that profit to dishonor as many claims as possible?

Let Your Little Light Shine

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Like Bea Arthur just did.

Bea Arthur leaves $300K to gay youth

By Breeanna Hare

"Golden Girls" star Bea Arthur's generosity lives on.

The actress, who died in April, included a $300,000 donation to New York's Ali Forney Center, an organization supporting homeless LGBT youth, in her will, leaving center Executive Director Carl Siciliano overwhelmed by her kindness.

Siciliano said he knew of Arthur's plan to include the center in her will, but never knew the amount.

He had been struggling to keep the doors of the shelter open. The organization assists more than 1,000 people each year, providing shelter for those who had to leave home "for being who they are," Siciliano said.

"The last year and a half, since the economic crisis started, it's been really hard to keep this program going," Siciliano said. "A lot of the foundation and corporate money that we used to get has dried up, and we've been growing. Every day, we have about 125 kids a night waiting to get into our housing."

But on Tuesday morning, a FedEx carrier delivered a $300,000 check.

Siciliano said he immediately started to cry. Arthur's donation couldn't have come at a better time.

"For months, I've been really sweating to make each payroll, and we're usually a month or two behind on our rent, and there have been times when I was afraid that I wasn't going to hold it together," he said. "That kind of terror of [trying to] keep this thing going has come to an end for now with this extraordinary generosity."

The Real Rubberband Man

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Thank you, lord, for the eccentrics.

In Florida, Fond Farewell for a 5-Ton Ball of Rubber Bands

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By Damien Cave

LAUDERHILL, Fla. -- The five-ton ball of rubber bands groaned and swayed as the crane lifted it from the driveway. A small frog hopped out from underneath.

"Let's cross our fingers and hope we don't see if it bounces," said Edward Meyer, who bought the ball for an undisclosed sum for Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Then he called to Joel Waul, the ball's creator. "Pretty exciting, right?" Mr. Meyer said.

"Yeah," said Mr. Waul, 28, the soft-spoken son of a surgical administrator and Jamaican musician. "Cool."

That was enough for him. After five years and 730,000 rubber bands, his baby -- Nugget, as he used to call it -- was moving on. And so was he. Mr. Waul, who works at the Gap, said he would use his Ripley's money for stuntman school next year.

His neighbors, however, were not quite as thrilled to see it go. Here in a town where '50s Florida homes are peeling and too many people are out of work, the giant rubber orb was a quiet comedian that could always get a laugh. No one ever tried to roll it away or deface it in the five years it took to build. Everyone seemed to enjoy watching it grow into the size of a small hatchback.

"I'm going to miss it," said Letitta Bush, 30, one of about 20 neighbors who gathered to watch its departure. "When I give directions, I can't say anymore that I live next to the big blue ball."

Mr. Waul's mother, Maureen Latham, 50, saw something even more meaningful in her son's creation: independence and hard work. And this act of endurance did not even include pain. It was far better, Ms. Latham said, than the time he attached 76 clothespins to his face, or an incident with acupuncture that she is still too afraid to ask him about.

Ebert on This Is It

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This Is It

by Roger Ebert

"This Is it," Michael Jackson told his fans in London, announcing his forthcoming concert tour. "This is the final curtain call." The curtain fell sooner than expected. What is left is this extraordinary documentary, nothing at all like what I was expecting to see. Here is not a sick and drugged man forcing himself through grueling rehearsals, but a spirit embodied by music. Michael Jackson was something else.

The film has been assembled from rehearsals from April through June 2009 for a concert tour scheduled for this summer. The footage was "captured by a few cameras," an opening screen tells us, but they were professional high-def cameras and the sound track is full-range stereo. The result is one of the most revealing music documentaries I've seen.

And it's more than that. It's a portrait of Michael Jackson that belies all the rumors that he would have been too weak to tour. That shows not the slightest trace of a spoiled prima donna. That benefits from the limited number of cameras by allowing us to experience his work in something closer to realistic time, instead of fracturing it into quick cuts. That provides both a good idea of what the final concert would have looked like, and a portrait of the artist at work.

Never raising his voice, never showing anger, always soft-spoken and courteous to his cast and crew, Michael with his director, Kenny Ortega, micro-manages the production. He corrects timing, refines cues, talks about details of music and dance. Seeing him always from a distance, I thought of him as the instrument of his producing operation. Here we see that he was the auteur of his shows.

We know now that Michael was subjected to a cocktail of drugs in the time leading up to his fatal overdose, including the last straw, a drug so dangerous it should only be administered by an anesthesiologist in an operating room. That knowledge makes it hard to understand how he appears to be in superb physical condition. His choreography, built from such precise, abrupt and perfectly-timed movements, is exhausting, but he never shows a sign of tiring. His movements are so well synchronized with the other dancers on stage, who are much younger and highly-trained, that he seems one with them. This is a man in such command of his physical instrument that he makes spinning in place seem as natural as blinking his eye.

He has always been a dancer first, and then a singer. He doesn't specialize in solos. With the exception of a sweet love ballad, his songs all incorporate four backup singers and probably supplementary tracks prerecorded by himself. It is the whole effect he has in mind.

It might have been a hell of a show. Ortega and special effects wizards coordinate pre-filmed sequences with the stage work. There's a horror-movie sequence with ghouls rising from a cemetery (and ghosts that were planned to fly above the audience). Michael is inserted into scenes from Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart movies, and through clever f/x even has a machine-gun battle with Bogie. His environmental pitch is backed by rain forest footage. He rides a cherry-picker high above the audience.

His audience in this case consists entirely of stagehands, gaffers, technicians, and so on. These are working people who have seen it all. They love him. They're not pretending. They love him for his music, and perhaps even more for his attitude. Big stars in rehearsal are not infrequently pains in the ass. Michael plunges in with the spirit of a co-worker, prepared to do the job and go the distance.

How was that possible? Even if he had the body for it, which he obviously did, how did he muster the mental strength? When you have a doctor on duty around the clock to administer the prescription medications you desire, when your idea of a good sleep is reportedly to be unconscious for 24 hours, how do you wake up into such a state of keen alertness? Uppers? I don't think it quite works that way. I was watching like a hawk for any hint of the effects of drug abuse, but couldn't see any. Perhaps it's significant that of all the people in the rehearsal space, he is the only one whose arms are covered at all times by long sleeves.

Well, we don't know how he did it. "This Is It" is proof that he did do it. He didn't let down his investors and colleagues. He was fully prepared for his opening night. He and Kenny Ortega, who also directed this film, were at the top of their game. There's a moving scene on the last day of rehearsal when Jackson and Ortega join hands in a circle with all the others, and thank them. But the concert they worked so hard on was never to be.

This is it.

Did you know that? I didn't. In other words corporations licensed to use public airwaves, something based on "public trust" can use that license to disseminate disinformation to the American public at will and not be held accountable for it.

The Media Can Legally Lie

By Mike Gaddy
Writer for lewrockwell.com.

In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.

Back in December of 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox "Investigators" team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1997 the team began work on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation. The couple produced a four-part series revealing that there were many health risks related to BGH and that Florida supermarket chains did little to avoid selling milk from cows treated with the hormone, despite assuring customers otherwise.

According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox's actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)

Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury's words) "a false, distorted or slanted story" about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida's whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.

FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre's threat to report the station's actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida's whistle blower statute, because Florida's whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted "law, rule, or regulation." In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy." Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.

During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre's claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so. After the appeal verdict WTVT general manager Bob Linger commented, "It's vindication for WTVT, and we're very pleased... It's the case we've been making for two years. She never had a legal claim."

Happy Birthday Internet

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Web pioneer recalls 'birth of the Internet'


kleinrock.jpgIt was 1969 and a busy year for making history: Woodstock, the Miracle Mets, men on the moon -- and something less celebrated but arguably more significant, the birth of the Internet.

On October 29 of that year, for perhaps the first time, a message was sent over the network that would eventually become the Web. Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at the University of California-Los Angeles, connected the school's host computer to one at Stanford Research Institute, a former arm of Stanford University.

Forty years ago today, the Internet may have uttered its first word.

Twenty years later, Kleinrock chaired a group whose report on building a national computer network influenced Congress in helping develop the modern Internet. Kleinrock holds more than a dozen patents and was awarded the National Medal of Science last year by President Bush.

In an interview with CNN, the 75-year-old looks back on his achievements and peers into the exciting and sometimes scary future of the Web he helped create.

Almost a century of stupidity may be ending

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California Marijuana Ban Gets Legislative Review After 96 Years

By Ryan Flinn and Michael Marois

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- California's Assembly will consider lifting its 96-year-old ban on marijuana, decriminalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol, as the state seeks ways out of its worst financial crisis since World War II.

The Assembly's Public Safety Committee will discuss the social, fiscal and legal implications of legalizing and regulating marijuana in Sacramento today, said Quintin Mecke, a spokesman for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

It would be the first time the issue has been considered by the Legislature since the ban on marijuana use went into effect in 1913, according to a statement from the San Francisco Democrat.

"It is time to take our heads out of the sand and start to regulate this $14 billion industry," Ammiano said in the statement. "By doing so, we can enact smart public policy that will bring much-needed revenue into the state and improve public safety by utilizing our limited law enforcement resources more wisely. The move toward regulation is simply common sense."

Ammiano introduced Assembly Bill 390 in February. If passed, it would add $1.34 billion to California's annual revenue based on sales tax and a $50-an-ounce excise levy, according to the state's tax administrator, the Board of Equalization.

The bill will have its first policy hearing in January, Mecke said. The $14 billion figure cited by Ammiano is his estimated value of both illegal and medical marijuana, he said.

Did this actually happen?

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Yes, Susie Creamcheese, yes, it did.

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The World Machine

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The internet and other forms of communication devices use 5% of global energy output.

Presently there are:


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Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web

How perfect is this?

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It damn well about time!

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This has driven me nuts for years. Why does every cell phone and laptop have completely different chargers and and connector types? Why Why Why?

UN body approves universal cell phone charger

GENEVA - The U.N. telecoms agency said Friday it has approved technology for a universal cell phone charger that aims to reduce the confusion, clutter and waste caused by today's proliferation of devices.

The new chargers will use a micro-USB plug, similar to that used for digital cameras, to enter the cell phone for charging, said Sarah Parkes, spokeswoman for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Some manufacturers may also allow the cable to be disconnected from the adapter at the plug-in end and inserted into a computer through a USB port instead. The power from the computer, however, would be smaller than from a wall socket and would take longer to charge a phone.

Some manufacturers already are using the new system, said Parkes. A number of companies have signed on to the new deal either with the ITU or earlier with the European Union.

Manufacturers won't legally be required to use the new standard, but in practice holdouts from ITU standards are rare, she said.

"Every mobile phone user will benefit from the new Universal Charging Solution," said the ITU, adding that the same charger could be used for all future handsets, regardless of make and model.

Parkes said it is likely to lead to a dramatic cut in the number of chargers produced, shipped and later discarded with each purchase of a new phone.

The new chargers also will reduce the energy consumed while charging, the ITU said.

It added that the new technology could lead to a 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption and a cut of 13.6 million tons to greenhouse gas emissions each year.

OK Maybe not a meteor

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But could have been something else...mind you the shape of the rim doesn't seem like it was made by a high velocity impact either.

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Experts doubt meteor led to Latvian crater

(CNN) -- Scientists expressed skepticism Monday about reports that a meteorite's impact created a crater near a northern Latvia farm.

The crater appears to have been dug by shovels, a doctoral student in geology told reporters, according to LETA, the nation's official news agency.

"A simple, man-made hole with a [chemical] substance poured in," said Andris Karpovics of the University of Latvia. He noted that a mixture of aluminum and iron, possibly with sulfur added, likely resulted in the increased temperature that was observed in the crater.

After inspecting the scene, another expert, astronomy specialist Ilgonis Vilks, told reporters the temperature within the crater was lower than what it would have been had a meteorite created the impression.

Vilks added that clumps of dirt would have surrounded the crater had a meteorite created it.

"Currently, it appears that it was not a meteorite," Vilks told reporters. He declined to comment what could have created the crater, whose size he put at about 33 feet (10 meters) wide and 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep -- smaller than originally described.

Vilks also did not deny that people could have dug the hole but said he is not an expert to judge this possibility.

Scientists and the armed forces from the northern European nation will inspect the crater and conduct an investigation, the news agency said.

Net neutrality on its way

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There's still a long way to go but at least its headed in the right direction:

Net neutrality faces political, legal hurdles

By Marguerite Reardon

(CNET) -- Net neutrality supporters may be celebrating the Federal Communications Commission's unanimous vote Thursday to begin developing open Internet regulation, but the battle is far from over as the yet-to-be-written regulation is already facing Congressional opposition and will also likely be challenged in court.

Votes at the FCC for the proposal to get the ball rolling on new rules to protect an open Internet hadn't even been cast when Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, introduced legislation on Thursday morning that would block the agency from regulating the Internet. McCain said that Net neutrality rules would stifle innovation and hurt the job market.

"Today I'm pleased to introduce the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation," McCain said in a statement. "It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy."

The FCC voted unanimously Thursday on a proposal that would start the process for creating regulation that will keep the Internet open. The proposal itself uses the FCC's open Internet principles as a foundation and would forbid network operators from restricting access to lawful Internet content, applications, and services. It would also require network providers to allow customers to attach non-harmful devices to the network.

Two additional principles were added, which would prevent network providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while at the same time allowing for reasonable network management. Internet access providers would also have to be transparent about the network management practices they implement.

All five commissioners voted in favor of advancing the rule-making process with the two Republicans, Meredith Attwell Baker and Robert McDowell, dissenting in part.

Memes and Temes

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This is a fascinating talk about the evolution of memes and the present development toward temes and how they represent the next level of replication.

Fess Up, Richie Rich

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Of course it'll never happen, because the Wall St boys are after all crooks of the highest order.

Wall Street titan should explain what he does for a living

By Bob Greene

(CNN) -- The national rage directed at Wall Street seems to be intensifying.

Many Americans struggle in vain to find work. Those fortunate enough to have jobs worry that their pay will be cut. The mortgage meltdown has cost families across the country their homes. No matter what financial experts may say about the recession coming to an end, too many people still feel like they're at the bottom of a deep well.

Yet Wall Street banks -- notably Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase -- are reporting spectacular profits. For them, it is as if the economic collapse last year was a little pothole that has long since disappeared in the rear-view mirror. They're zooming right along.

This month, Goldman announced that its profits in the last three months alone were $3 billion.

If the final quarter continues on this prosperous pace, Goldman's year-end bonus pool may exceed $20 billion, according to the New York Times -- enough to pay its 31,700 employees an average of $700,000.

That's the kind of news that many Americans may find difficult to swallow as a grim Christmas season arrives.

No wonder the anger at Wall Street is real and visceral.

But here is a modest proposal.

It has to do with Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Blankfein, it has been reported, may receive a year-end bonus that is even larger than the one he got two years ago.

Which is really saying something, seeing that his 2007 bonus was $67.9 million.

Here's the proposal:

Blankfein should go on television and make a public service announcement.

Not one of those 30-second ones that run late at night, promoting various worthy causes.

Blankfein should prepare a 30-minute announcement, to be delivered by him personally. He should buy time during the prime evening viewing hours on all the major networks.

He should look into the camera and, as a service to an irate country, answer one simple question:

"What exactly do you do for a living?"

He should answer the question specifically, and in detail.

What is it that he and his employees do every day that makes their work so much more valuable than the work done by virtually anyone else in America?

Rush was right after all?

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Well I guess this explains why the election losers always have such a problem trying try to "mount" another election and make a come back. Now I understand where Rush's reference to ankle grabbing have originated from.

Study: McCain Voters Lost Testosterone

By Buck Wolf (AOL News)

Young men who voted for John McCain lost more than a presidential election last November. A study says their testosterone level plummeted.

As polls closed on election night, researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan had 183 men and women chew gum and spit into test tubes and analyzed their hormones.

testosterone.gifA few hours later, as Barack Obama supporters began celebrating, they tested hormone levels again, and later, at two more intervals.

Men who voted for Obama maintained stable testosterone levels, while men who voted for McCain saw levels drop more than 25 percent.

Franken is well named

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As in "Let's be frank..."

Franken Exposes Health Care Lies

Far too many Democrats in Congress allow right-wing and corporate apologists to get away with telling outrageous lies. I don't know if it's because they don't know the real truth, or because they just don't have enough of a spine to call these people on their lies. Fortunately, there are a few Democrats who aren't afraid to point out these obvious lies.

One of these brave Democrats was elected to the Senate in the last election by the good people of Minnesota -- Al Franken. I thought he would make a good senator, and he proves that belief was justified with each day he spends in the Senate.

It is a well-known fact that around 62% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, and 78% of those people had private health insurance (which still left them with enormous unpaid medical bills). It is a shameful situation, and one the private insurance companies would rather not talk about.

A couple of days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on medical debt and bankruptcy. After several people testified how medical bills (unpaid by their insurance) had forced them into bankruptcy, right-wingers called a witness of their own.

That witness was Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the right-wing Hudson Institute. She tried to tell the committee that moving toward a European-style single payer insurance system would actually increase the number of medical bankruptcies. This outrageous lie was too much for Sen. Franken, and he had the following exchange with Furchtgott-Roth:

FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we're talking about in Congress now should pass. You said that the way we're going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don't have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.

FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It's zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don't have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.

FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I'm assuming the number is zero. But I don't know the precise number and would have to get back to you.

FRANKEN: Well, you're very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.
Although he made quickly made his point that Furchtgott-Roth either didn't know what she was talking about or was telling an outright lie, Sen. Franken could have gone on listing many other countries. Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and many other countries also have ZERO medical bankruptcies.

The fact that the United States has any medical bankruptcies at all should be a source of great embarrassment to all Americans. Thank you Senator Franken, for standing tall and exposing the right-wing lies.

And thank you Minnesota, for giving America Senator Al Franken.


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Proving once again stupidity is boundless

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Saudi female journalist sentenced to 60 lashes

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi court on Saturday convicted a female journalist for her involvement in a TV show, in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, and sentenced her to 60 lashes.

Rozanna al-Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her included involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.

Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, told The Associated Press he had no details of the sentencing and could not comment on it.

In the program, which aired in July on the Lebanese LBC satellite channel, Mazen Abdul-Jawad appears to describe an active sex life and shows sex toys that were blurred by the station. The same court sentenced Abdul-Jawad earlier this month to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

On the conservative idea

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A local forum rant of mine:

Did you ever consider that the country was founded on liberal ideas and not conservative ones? Liberty/liberal, see the connection? It's the conservatives who are always saying "No", it's the conservatives who are and always have been the minority of the population, it's the conservatives who represent elite positions of the wealthy and vested interests and try to nix any ideas that would serve the common weal.

The whole concept of America is a liberal ideal. The conservatives stayed loyal to the British king, they eschewed the change that America represented. Why should conservatives have any say now? Name something historically important and beneficial to the general population during the entire the history of the US that was a product of conservative thought or legislation?

Liberals represent progress and conservatives represent constraint. Both are a necessary function of a balanced society. The problem we have today is that what is being passed as conservative thought is nothing more than contrariness and a kind of hysterical paranoia that government is out to get us. Look at Regan's false edict that government IS the problem. Then what was he doing being in government? He was becoming a very major part of the problem that he was accusing government of being.

It's the Ayn Rand false libertarian absurdity that an unconscious mechanism like a market will self-regulate in its own interest and provide benefits for the greater good that infected people like Greenspan and Summers and nearly brought us all to economic collapse. Even Greenspan now declares it as a false concept. He now realizes after 40 years and observing the real world effect of the philosophy he admired and lived by that Ayn Rand was a writer of theoretical fiction not fact.

The problem is not government, the problem is governments that are made to be authoritarian and intentionally mismanaged by vested interests and that's a conservative idea not a liberal one.

So go ahead and give us one example of what great thing conservative thought ever did for the country. I'm all ears.

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Here's an article to consider while you think about it:

It's about the happiest people in the world who happen to be be living in a socialist country. Can you guess which one? Why are they so happy? Check it out. Then ask whether that sort of life would happen under a conservative regime.

Who's informed?

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Offical First Family Portrait

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I like how happy they look.

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A major childhood memory makes a final exit

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The Soupy Sales Show was originally broadcast out of Detroit in the '50's and he truly was a hip Jim Carrey of his day to young kids. He was a speedy, slightly naughty, iconoclastic but incredibly kind older brother.

Soupy Sales 1926 - 2009

soupy.jpgBecause of the smaller screen size and production limitations of 1950's television, the medium was much more dependent on the abilities of the person in front of the camera. Soupy Sales was a masterful communicator and comic artist, a gifted performer with a twisted sense of humor and contagious laughter. He had an incandescent spark that lit up that small black and white box, like all three Marx Brothers squeezed into one.

Children loved his fast-paced assault of puns, innuendoes and asides - adults found Soupy enjoyable as well. Time magazine called him "the last genuine comedy primitive" and that he was, at least until Jim Carrey came along.

At the end of his stint at WXYZ, Soupy's show was slotted to temporarily replace Detroit's 'Uncle Al Lewis Show' (not the guy from 'The Munsters'). That got the attention of ABC who scheduled Lunch with Soupy Sales for Saturday at noon during the 1959 - 1961 seasons.

By this point, Soupy could lay claim to taking 14,000 pies (bakery crust with shaving cream) in the face. "There's no message to this show," Sales explained. "It's actually a kid's show for adults - we even get letters now from people who have pie-throwing parties in their basements."

The setting for the show was Soupy's living room; besides pies in the face, regular features included 'Soupy Sez' (words of 'wisdom'), song and dance numbers (like 'The Soupy Shuffle'), comic narration over silent films and riotous routines with Clyde Adler's rebellious puppets. Soupy would eat lunch with his viewers, hence the title, topping it off with Jello ("It wiggles, kids"), the show's sponsor.

So long and thanks for the great yuks and kindness, Soupy.

Another WTF in the air

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This is incredible.

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Jet overshoots Minn. airport by 150 miles

Crew says they got distracted; officials investigating possible pilot fatigue

Two Northwest Airlines pilots failed to make radio contact with ground controllers for more than an hour and overflew their Minneapolis destination by 150 miles before discovering the mistake and turning around.

The plane landed safely Wednesday evening, apparently without passengers realizing that anything had been amiss. No one was hurt.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the crew told authorities they became distracted during a heated discussion over airline policy and lost track of their location, but federal officials are investigating whether pilot fatigue might also have played a role.

The National Transportation Safety Board does not yet know if the crew fell asleep, spokesman Keith Holloway said, calling that idea "speculative."

Flight 188, an Airbus A320, was flying from San Diego to Minneapolis with 144 passengers and five crew. The pilots dropped out of radio contact with controllers just before 7 p.m. CDT, when they were at 37,000 feet.

The jet flew over the airport just before 8 p.m. and overshot it before communications were re-established at 8:14 p.m, the NTSB said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the crew told authorities they became distracted during a heated discussion over airline policy and lost track of their location.

The FAA notified the military, which put Air National Guard fighter jets on alert at two locations. As many as four planes could have been scrambled, but none ever took to the air.

"After FAA re-established communications, we pulled off," said Michael Kucharek, a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman.

Andrea Allmon, who had been traveling from San Diego on business, said no one on the plane knew anything was amiss until the end of the flight.

Lottolab

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"Let there be perception," was evolution's proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place -- where what an organism's brain sees diverges from what is actually out there -- is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions.




Why do we see only four colors?

The colors perceived by humans in response to light stimuli are generally described in terms of four color categories (reds, greens, blues and yellows), the members of which are systematically arrayed around gray. This broadly accepted description of color sensation differs fundamentally from the light that induces it, which is neither 'circular' nor categorical.

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What, then, accounts for these discrepancies between the structure of color experience and the physical reality that underlies it? We suggest that these differences are based on two related requirements for successful color vision:(1) that spectra be ordered according to their physical similarities and differences; and (2) that this ordering be constrained by the four-color map problem.

Download: A rationale for the structure of color space. (.pdf)

Old idea new

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The Warning

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A must see Frontline PBS report on air and online October 20, 2009 at 9:00pm (check local listings)


"The Warning" Prologue

In the devastating aftermath of the economic meltdown, FRONTLINE sifts through the ashes for clues about why it happened and examines critical moments when it might have gone much differently. Looking back into the 1990s, veteran FRONTLINE producer/director Michael Kirk (Inside the Meltdown, Breaking the Bank) discovers early warnings of the crash, reveals an intense battle among high-ranking members of the Clinton administration and uncovers a concerted effort not to regulate the emerging, highly-complex and lucrative derivatives markets that would become the ticking time bomb within the American economy.

What humans can do

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hat tip sis mo


Amazing video: Gymnasts In Poland

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Evangelical Insanity

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Churches denounce African children as 'witches'

By Katherine Houreld

EKET, Nigeria - The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.

His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him - Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

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Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of "witch children" reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

"It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity," said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria.

For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund.

"When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats," he said. "It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change ... and children are defenseless."


Because

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Saluting Ayn Rand

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A Conservative Rarity

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Two conservative intellectuals actually having a non-partisan conversation about economy and healthcare. Really a treat to see.

Conservative for Higher Taxes

Consider this. The insurance companies have a clear reason to want to control healthcare - making profit. They have no other interest at all and will maximize their situation with any means possible to accomplish that primary and singular goal. The companies see this not only as desirable, but legally it is their duty - such is the definition of a corporation - and that model has served the markets relatively well for most areas of society where there is healthy competition between the players. Right now however what is driving the healthcare industry is not healthcare issues per se, but the pressures of Wall St demand for ever increasing profit margins. There is no regulation of that.

On the other hand, what dark motives would a government run healthcare system have? What would motivate a government to provide bad healthcare? Governments have checks and balances, corporations do not.

Consider too that countries that have universal healthcare run by governments have better or equal healthcare results than the US while also spending far less of their GDP and the primary reason for that saving is the elimination of the for profit insurance industry. Finally, ask yourself what real service insurance companies add to the healthcare equation. To me they appear to add an approximate and needless 20% overhead. Medicare works pretty well, why not just extend it to everyone and be done with it? Then we can focus on working the wrinkles like cheats and over-payments out of that single comprehensive system.

A transition period of say 10 years could be implemented aimed at reducing the impact of insurance companies employee job loss and share holder movement, where a mixed system of private and public insurance were both offered on an opt-in/op-out basis. (Its clear that altering the structure of 1/6 of the economy is a big task and will require some accomodations).

Then of course, there's the ethical dimension: why should something as basic and critical to the well being of all citizens be made a commodity to be traded on an open market and subject to the vagaries of that market? Why should anyone profit from the life or death situations of others? Why add the expense of life boats to the fares of people who have taught themselves to swim?

A Spooky Particle Theory

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Here's a weird idea. Remember how the Large Hadron Collider at CERN managed to be shut down by a vaporized magnet connector not long after being fired up last fall? Well some people are putting forth the theory that it might have happened because something about the nature of the Higgs particle (which is the quarry of the collider) offends the universe and so screw ups to the machine are being sent back from the future to prevent the particles from being generated in the first place. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate

By Dennis Overbye

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More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world's biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I'm not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I'm talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, put this idea forward in a series of papers with titles like "Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal" and "Search for Future Influence From LHC," posted on the physics Web site arXiv.org in the last year and a half.

According to the so-called Standard Model that rules almost all physics, the Higgs is responsible for imbuing other elementary particles with mass.

"It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck," Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, "Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God." It is their guess, he went on, "that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them."

This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an "anti-miracle."

You might think that the appearance of this theory is further proof that people have had ample time -- perhaps too much time -- to think about what will come out of the collider, which has been 15 years and $9 billion in the making.

The collider was built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts around an 18-mile underground racetrack and then crash them together into primordial fireballs.

For the record, as of the middle of September, CERN engineers hope to begin to collide protons at the so-called injection energy of 450 billion electron volts in December and then ramp up the energy until the protons have 3.5 trillion electron volts of energy apiece and then, after a short Christmas break, real physics can begin.

Maybe.

All the Lonely Sheeple

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Where do they all come from?

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Idiots Unite

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An Essay By Bill Moyers

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click the title for the PBS video


The Health Care Lobby

October 9, 2009

NARRATOR: One year ago, right about now, The economy keeled over, like an overstuffed sow.

First Bush, then Barack had to fix things at once. We had to shape up those banks and their high wire stunts.

But banks bought up banks, gladly too big to fail And sent millions to Congress so their views would prevail.

Now bonuses are back and phony finances abound, But all must be well, there's a market rebound.

Executives to bankers have wallets quite blubbery... And, oh by the way, it's a jobless recovery

BILL MOYERS: You know from the news that early next week the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on its version of health care reform. And therein lies another story of money and politics.

Polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans favor a non-profit alternative -- like Medicare -- that would give the private health insurance industry some competition. But if so many Americans and the President himself want that public option, how come we're not getting one?

Because, the medicine has been poisoned from day one, in part because of that same revolving door that Congresswoman Kaptur and Simon Johnson were just talking about. Movers and shakers rotate between government and the lucrative private sector at a speed so dizzying they forget who they're working for.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS: Our plan does not include a public option.

BILL MOYERS: Take a close look at that woman sitting behind Montana Senator Max Baucus. He's the Democrat who's the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Liz Fowler is her name. And now get this. She used to work for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was Vice President of Public Policy. And now she's working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want: higher profits, and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.

I'm not making this up. Here's another little eye-opener. The woman who was Baucus' top health advisor before he hired Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. Why did she leave the Committee? To go to work -- where else? -- at a firm representing the same company Liz Fowler worked for WellPoint. As a lobbyist.

It's the old Washington shell game. Lobbyist out, lobbyist in. And it's why they always win.

They've been plowing this ground for years, but with the broad legislative agenda of the Obama White House, it's more fertile than ever. The health insurance industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of Congress, and more than 500 of them are former congressional staff members.

Just to be certain Congress sticks with the program, they've been showering megabucks all over Capitol Hill. From the beginning, they wanted to make sure that the bill that comes out of the Finance Committee next week puts for-profit health insurance companies first, by forcing the uninsured to buy medical policies from them. Money not only talks, it writes the prescriptions.

In just the last few months, the health care industry has spent 380 million dollars on lobbying, advertising and campaign contributions. And a million and a half of it went to -- don't hold your breath -- Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, who said he saw "a lot to like" in two proposed public options but voted "no."

SEN. MAX BAUCUS: My job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes. Now I can count and no one has been able to show me how we can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.

BILL MOYERS: Of course not. They can't get 60 votes. Not when the people who want a public alternative can't possibly scrape up the millions of dollars Baucus has received from the health sector during his political career.

Over the last two decades, the current members of the Senate Finance Committee - you're looking at them -- have collected nearly 50 million dollars from the health sector. A long-term investment that's now paying off like a busted slot machine.

Not that we should be surprised. A century ago, muckraking journalists reported that large corporations and other wealthy interests virtually owned the Senate, using bribery, fraud, and sometimes blackmail to get their way. Jokes were made about the Senator from Union Pacific or the Senator from Standard Oil.

This fellow in particular was out to break their grip. His name was David Graham Phillips, and one day in 1906, readers of COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE opened its March issue to discover the first of nine articles by Phillips titled "The Treason of the Senate."

He wrote: "Treason is a strong word, but not too strong, rather too weak, to characterize the situation in which the Senate is the eager, resourceful, indefatigable agent of interests as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be..."

The public outrage provoked by Phillips and other muckrakers contributed to the passage of the Constitutional amendment providing for the direct election of Senators, who until then were elected by easily bought-off state legislators.

Of course, like water seeking its own level, big money finds its way around every obstacle, and was soon up to its old tricks, filling the pockets of friendly politicians. Today none dare call it treason. So how about calling it what it is: a friendly takeover of government. A leveraged buyout of democracy.

Outrageous? You bet. But don't just get mad. Get busy.

Love does not require a rationale

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Re: The same sex brouhaha

From a local forum:

spoonman:
I wonder why open display sexual orientation is sought out to the degree it is. Homosexuality is after all a choice to have relations with one's own sex. The defining characteristic is sexual/sex. It is ALL about their inclination to the same sex. I DO NOT CARE. Why are gays so special? Keep it to yourself as far as I'm concerned.
The Right Stuff:
They want to be defined by their sexual choices, even though those choices are not inalienable and not protected rights under the US Constitution.

In other words, they want 'special' rights for their choices.

me:

Wrong - the primary and defining characteristic of same sex relationships is who you love not who you screw. The sex is important but secondary to that love. And that love and the loving relationship it engenders require no permission from the constitution nor any other source.


Whether or not the opinions of some who assert such relationships are a matter of choice is completely irrelevant to the reality of the relationship and should have zero bearing on the issue. Love does not require a rationale.

All that is required from other people and the government is recognition that there exists a committed relationship deserving the same respect and legal rights and responsibilities as any other involving consenting adults.

Luna Tic Tic Tic

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NASA set to crash on the moon -- twice

(CNN) -- Two U.S. spacecraft are set to crash on the moon Friday. On purpose. And we're all invited to watch.

moonbomb.jpgNASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite is scheduled to drop its Centaur upper-stage rocket on the lunar surface at 7:31 a.m. ET.

NASA hopes the impact will kick up enough dust to help the LCROSS probe find the presence of water in the moon's soil. Four minutes later, the LCROSS will follow through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before crashing into the Cabeus crater near the moon's south pole. The LCROSS is carrying spectrometers, near-infrared cameras, a visible camera and a visible radiometer. These instruments will help NASA scientists analyze the plume of dust -- more than 250 metric tons' worth -- for water vapor.

The orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will watch, and photograph, the collisions. And hundreds of telescopes on Earth also will be focused on the two plumes.

Text Messaging

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Larry Wilmore Plays the Race Card

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Republican's Fact Impaired Miniverse

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Figures.

Free Speech My Ass

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Ever hear of "crush videos"? They are films of small furry animals like kittens or baby rabbits being stomped to death by high heeled women for voyeuristic sexual kicks. Producers claim free speech protection for such videos and the Supreme Court at present is weighing the constitutionality of laws aimed at prohibiting the production and dissemination of such videos. I personally find it appallingly sick and ridiculous that such violent and cruel behavior should not involve jail sentences. Its exactly the same as the legendary "snuff flicks" where sexual thrills are gotten from real murders of humans. What's the difference if its defenseless animals being tortured and murdered for a vicarious thrill?

From High court debates dog fighting videos

In a nutshell as it were

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hit tip to pal Ouroboros

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Beck the ACK...TOR !

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Actually, he's not as scary as the fact that there are people who take this sort of rhetoric seriously rather than the stand up act it is.

(via Below the Beltway)

The Tangled Webs They Weave

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This Counter Punch article reveals how really complex obfuscation was used to hide banking and government collusion to transfer wealth from those being foreclosed on by the housing crisis to the wealthy. Its pretty thick but worth the effort to follow the threads and watch the media clips supplied at the end of the article.

Wall Street Titans Use Aliases to Foreclose on Families While Partnering With a Federal Agency

By Pam Martens

A federal agency tasked with expanding the American dream of home ownership and affordable housing free from discrimination to people of modest means has been quietly moving a chunk of that role to Wall Street since 2002. In a stealth partial privatization, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) farmed out its mandate of working with single family homeowners in trouble on their mortgages to the industry most responsible for separating people from their savings and creating an unprecedented wealth gap that renders millions unable to pay those mortgages. This industry also ranks as one of the most storied industries in terms of race discrimination. Rounding out its dubious housing credentials, Wall Street is now on life support courtesy of the public purse known as TARP as a result of issuing trillions of dollars in miss-rated housing bonds and housing-related derivatives, many of which were nothing more than algorithmic concepts wrapped in a high priced legal opinion. It's difficult to imagine a more problematic resume for the new housing czars.

To what degree this surreptitious program has contributed to putting children and families out on the street during one of the worst economic slumps since the '30s should be on a Congressional short list for investigation. HUD's demand for confidentiality from all bidders and announcement of winning bids to parties known only as "the winning bidder" deserves its own investigation in terms of obfuscating the public's right to know and the ability of the press to properly fulfill its function in a free society.

Despite three days of emails and phone calls to HUD officials, they have refused to provide the names of the winning bidders or the firms that teamed as co-bidders with the winning party. Obtaining this information independently has been akin to extracting a painful splinter wearing a blindfold and oven mitts.

That a taxpayer-supported Federal agency conducts a competitive bid program of over $2 billion and then refuses to announce the names of the winning bidders is beyond contempt for the American people. If the Obama administration does not quickly purge this Bush mindset from these Federal agencies, he is inviting a massive backlash in the midterm elections.

The HUD program was benignly called Accelerated Claims Disposition (ACD) and was said to be a pilot program. A pilot program might suggest to those uninformed in the ways of the new Wall Street occupation of America a modest spending outlay; a go slow approach. In this case, from 2002 to 2005, HUD transferred in excess of $2.4 billion of defaulted mortgages insured by its sibling, the FHA, into the hands of Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns while providing the firms with wide latitude to foreclose, restructure or sell off in bundles to investors. HUD retained a minority interest of 30 to 40 percent in each joint venture. Citigroup was awarded the 2002 and 2004 joint ventures; Lehman Brothers the 2003; Bear Stearns the 2005. I obtained this information by reconciling the aliases used by these firms in foreclosures of HUD properties to the addresses of the corporate parents. I further confirmed the information by checking the official records at multiple Secretaries of State offices where the firms must register their subsidiaries to do business within the state.

What the program effectively did was allow the biggest retail banks in the country to get accelerated payment on their defaulted, FHA-insured, single family mortgage loans while allowing another set of the biggest investment banks to make huge profits in fees for bundling and selling off the loans as securitizations. Once the loans were securitized (sold off to investors) they were no longer the problem of HUD or the Wall Street bankers. The loans conveniently disappeared from the radar screen and the balance sheet. The family's fate had been sold off by HUD to Wall Street in exchange for a small piece of the action. Wall Street then sold off the family's fate to thousands of investors around the world for a large piece of the action.

Bible Fight

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GLH also provides this joy filled diversion from his Onward Christian Dullards section :

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What do you know about the ENDA?

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Thanks to Godless Liberal Homo for offering us some great information links regarding ENDA

Some Excellent Blog Posts on ENDA

The corporate media are downplaying the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), the most important lgbt issue, because they want corporations to be able to fire people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That's why people who support equality have to be the media.

H1N1 Influenza Virus

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Wannna see something really scary?

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What "Capitalism" Is Not

by Terrance Heath

If I were to summarize message Michael Moore's new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story in one sentence, it would be this: Capitalism is not a form of government. That's the answer to the question posed at the beginning of the movie, via 1950s educational/propaganda films.









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Capitalism is not a form of government. It is a tool we've allowed to be used as a weapon. We threw out the instructions and rules for its usage, and it became a weapon -- much like a hammer can be used to build a house or smash a skull, depending on whether it's wielded by a carpenter or a psychopath.


Moore spends the rest of the movie showing us how we not only tossed out the rules, but junked every other tool in our collective toolbox, and left ourselves with the hammer. But everything is not a nail, and the hammer isn't suited to every aspect of the task in front of us. Moore gives us until the end of the movie to figure out what that seemingly abandoned task might be.


Capitalism is populated by people whose names we know and people whose names we don't -- all characters in what Michael Moore has subtitled "a love story." We know the speeches of the former, and the stories of the latter, because we've watched those same stories unfold in our own communities in the last couple of years. The speeches were intended to arouse our passions, by retelling part the most recent chapter in the story of how we got here -- the part that happened on Wall Street and in Washington.

An Unacceptable Outlook

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The Krugman talks about the dire outlook regarding jobs over the next few years and how declarations of "the recession is over" are beyond misleading.

Mission Not Accomplished

By Paul Krugman

Stocks are up. Ben Bernanke says that the recession is over. And I sense a growing willingness among movers and shakers to declare "Mission Accomplished" when it comes to fighting the slump. It's time, I keep hearing, to shift our focus from economic stimulus to the budget deficit.

No, it isn't. And the complacency now setting in over the state of the economy is both foolish and dangerous.

Yes, the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration have pulled us "back from the brink" -- the title of a new paper by Christina Romer, who leads the Council of Economic Advisers. She argues convincingly that expansionary policy saved us from a possible replay of the Great Depression.

But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market -- a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer -- will remain terrible for years to come.

Indeed, the administration's own economic projection -- a projection that takes into account the extra jobs the administration says its policies will create -- is that the unemployment rate, which was below 5 percent just two years ago, will average 9.8 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2011, and 7.7 percent in 2012.

This should not be considered an acceptable outlook. For one thing, it implies an enormous amount of suffering over the next few years. Moreover, unemployment that remains that high, that long, will cast long shadows over America's future.

Anyone who thinks that we're doing enough to create jobs should read a new report from John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute, which describes the "scarring" that's likely to result from sustained high unemployment. Among other things, Mr. Irons points out that sustained unemployment on the scale now being predicted would lead to a huge rise in child poverty -- and that there's overwhelming evidence that children who grow up in poverty are alarmingly likely to lead blighted lives.


Free Screenings Tonight of "Capitalism" for the Jobless and Homeless in America's Hardest Hit Cities (plus local benefit premieres all across the country)

Friends,

We're just one day away from the widest opening I've ever had for any of my movies. Tomorrow, Friday, October 2nd, "Capitalism: A Love Story" opens on over a thousand screens across the United States, a record for an independent documentary.

This follows last weekend's limited opening in New York and L.A. where "Capitalism" set the box office record for the highest per screen average of ANY movie released so far this year. Not just any documentary -- any MOVIE! It was, as the studio said, a good indicator of just how well the movie may do when it goes wide this weekend. I sincerely hope they're right because I believe deeply in this film.

To kick off the national release of "Capitalism: A Love Story," I've asked the studio to offer a number of screenings in the nation's hardest hit cities -- the ones with the highest unemployment rates and highest foreclosure rates -- where those who've lost their jobs or who are in foreclosure (or have already been evicted) may attend my film free of charge. They've agreed, and so tonight (Thursday), the night before our opening day, ten cities will grant you free admission if you have fallen on hard times. The list of theaters and cities is below. You don't need to bring any "proof" of your situation -- just show up -- it's the honor system, no questions asked.

Of course, a free movie ain't much when what you really need is a job or a place to live. And that's not going to change until the party that controls both the Congress and the White House wakes up and realizes the American people put them in charge to fix the mess created by the previous administration. For that to happen requires the active involvement of each of us. And, as I show in this movie, it's going to also require us to challenge some fundamental assumptions about an economic system that currently allows the wealthiest ONE PERCENT in this country to have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined. That concentration of money and power in the hands of so few people is, I believe, at the core of so many of our problems.

So, if you're going through tough times and you live in one of the areas below, please be my guest tonight, on the eve of my new film's opening. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.

Also, in another five cities tonight, I have made the film available to local groups to hold benefit screenings to raise money for their local organizations -- organizations which are working toward a day when a filmmaker doesn't have to offer free screenings to people who've been put through the wringer. If you live in any of these areas (see below for the list of benefit premieres tonight), please come out and support the good work of these grassroots groups.

So, until tomorrow, thanks for your support, and I'll see ya at the movies!

Yours,
Michael Moore

Typhoon Parma

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At over 1000 mile across, Pacific typhoon Parma has 150 mph winds and is bearing down on the Phillipines. Beautiful but deadly.

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