July 2010 Archives

Wherever man goes...mangoes.

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mango_tree.jpgDid you know that more mangoes are sold on earth than any other fruit? Or that Mango trees have been cultivated and grafted for hundreds of years. Grafting was a 'secret' in many cultures and tasty mangoes were status symbols for the royalty only. Ancient kings would steal limbs off each others' mango trees and bribe and kidnap the other kings' gardeners. Peasants were punished for possession of mango fruit or unauthorized cultivation of mango fruit trees. Royalty would try to surpass each other with lavish mango parties and huge gifts of perfect, ripe, delicious mango fruits. Some of today's Indochinese awesome varieties existed many, many years ago exactly as we have them now.

Mango trees are evergreens.

The civilized grafted mango trees we have now are nothing like the ancient, wild trees whose small fruit tasted like turpentine and had the texture of nylon yarn. The old test of a mango fruit was it's stringiness, it's fiber content. You used to judge a mango by how much dental floss it had. The advent of the free exchange of scientific and agricultural data changed all that. Grafting began to be widely practiced.

Mango fruit from seeds is never the same as the mother tree's fruit. So the seed out of a great tasting fruit will likely produce a tree yielding horrible tasting fibrous fruit. The only certain way to be sure you'll have tasty fruit is to propagate (by grafting, and in some cases cloning) an existing particular, individual tree (DNA-wise) whose quality is proven.

The odds of a seed producing worthwhile fruit are very, very small. Like one in a hundred million.

Mango leaves contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac that can cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in susceptible people. Cross-reactions between mango contact allergens and urushiol have been observed. Those with a history of poison ivy or poison oak may be most at risk for such an allergic reaction. Urushiol is also present in mango vines and to a lesser degree in the peel . During mango's primary season, it is the most common source of plant dermatitis in Hawaii

These and other mango facts can be found here

Scum Breitbart Loves Al-Qaeda

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From MoveOn.org

We've just uncovered a video in which Andrew Breitbart admits he "hearts" terrorists while a conservative audience applauds.

Is this video real? Hey, video can't lie, right? Just ask CBS, The Washington Post, Fox, and other news outlets who've faithfully covered Andrew Breitbart's videos.

But the news media is ignoring this new video entirely, even though just last week they took at face value Breitbart's selectively-edited video purporting to show USDA official Shirley Sherrod making racist comments. That claim, of course, was quickly exposed as fraudulent.

Our video is just as truthful as any Breitbart has ever released, and deserves equal coverage from the news media. If you think the media should be covering this, watch the video, share it with your friends, and sign our petition today!


Breaking: Andrew Breitbart admits true allegiance to Al-Qaeda

Leaks Declared Risk to Lives

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What a load of crap. I'll tell you what puts lives at risk...continuing an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and having attacked a country that nothing to do with 9/11 in the first place. If we had had transparency from the get-go none of this would be taking place. The national security bugaboo used to make everything a matter of required secrecy by governments today is the real enemy of the people. I would aver that 90% of such secrets are to cover asses and prevent political embarrassments rather than providing any sort of protection.

White House: Afghan war leaks put lives 'at risk'

Some 90,000 leaked U.S. military records posted online Sunday amount to a blow-by-blow account of six years of the Afghanistan war, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings as well as covert operations against Taliban figures.

The online whistle-blower WikiLeaks posted the documents on its website Sunday. The New York Times, London's Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the documents.

The White House responded immediately with a strong condemnation of the disclosures, saying they could threaten national security and "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk."

The leaked records include detailed descriptions of raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit called Task Force 373 against what U.S. officials considered high-value insurgent and terrorist targets. Some of the raids resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians, according to the documentation.

Among those listed as being killed by the secretive unit was Shah Agha, described by the Guardian as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men in June 2009. Another was a Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi, described in the documents as a senior al-Qaida military commander. Al-Libi was said to be based across the border in Mir Ali, Pakistan, and was running al-Qaida training camps in North Waziristan, a region along the Afghan border where U.S. officials have said numerous senior al-Qaida leaders were believed to be hiding.

The New York Times said the documents -- including classified cables and assessments between military officers and diplomats -- also describe U.S. fears that ally Pakistan's intelligence service was actually aiding the Afghan insurgency.

According to the Times, the documents suggest Pakistan "allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders."



A Pot of Gold

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This could be the first big step in finally destroying the ridiculously evil and massively expensive and destructive bureaucracy know as the War On Drugs. What a God-send that would be. Too bad it wasn't happening 20 years ago when I actually bothered to smoke the stuff...oh well. Viva la change...Doy la bienvenida el cambio.

High finance and corporate pot, California style

by Peter Henderson

potleaves.jpgJeff Wilcox, a middle-aged, clean-cut man who dresses in the Bay Area casual business attire of clean jeans, collared shirt and running shoes, may be the face of Marijuana, Inc, the corporatization of cannabis.

He has just persuaded Oakland to legalize industrial-sized marijuana farms, touting a study that promised millions in city taxes and hundreds of high-paying union jobs.

The long-struggling city, which has failed spectacularly to capitalize on the high-tech boom, could be the Silicon Valley of pot, Wilcox told the City Council this week before its historic vote to grant four permits for urban, industrial-size marijuana farms.

But as Wilcox points out, his business model -- a nonprofit -- will be less Google or Apple and more Trader Joe's, a California cut rate gourmet grocery chain. The store's best-known product is $2 per bottle Charles Shaw wine, known affectionately as Two Buck Chuck and considered a great glass of wine for the price.

"The new Two Buck Chuck will be $40 an ounce pot," Wilcox said in an interview, looking forward to a day of full legalization. Boutique growers could produce the high-end stuff in their "gardens," he explained, while he supplied the masses with a clean, controlled, great-value product.

If California legalizes marijuana, the rest of the nation may well follow. One way or the other, cut rate, highly potent California weed is unlikely to stop at the state's borders.

The U.S. state that first allowed sales of medicinal marijuana, in 1996, may take away all restrictions on adult use of the drug in a November vote, giving local governments the option to regulate sales and growing of marijuana.

WikiLeaks About to Cause Some Freakouts

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Wow. I can't wait to see the fallout from this one.
Run Julian, Run!

This sort of thing is exactly what is needed to present a much more realistic picture of what is going with the war efforts or as founder JulianAssange states:

....he hoped his website would be "very dangerous" to "people who want to conduct wars in an abusive way.

"This material doesn't just reveal occasional abuse by the U.S. military," he said. "Of course it has U.S. military reporting on all sort of abuses by the Taliban. ... So it does describe the abuses by both sides in this war and that's how people can understand what's really going on and if they choose to support it or not."

But for the real meat go to The Guardian's take on it all.

Tens of thousands of alleged Afghan war documents go online

From Atika Shubert, CNN

CNN - A whistle-blower website has published what it says are more than 90,000 United States military and diplomatic reports about Afghanistan filed between 2004 and January of this year.

The first-hand accounts are the military's own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties, threat reports and the like, according to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.org, which published the material Sunday.

"It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions -- U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups," Assange said.

CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents. The Department of Defense will not comment on them until the Pentagon has had a chance to look at them, a Defense official told CNN.

Assange declined to tell CNN where he got the documents. He claims the documents reveal the "squalor" of war, uncovering how many relatively small incidents have added up to huge numbers of dead civilians.

Crowdsourcing the war in Afghanistan

WikiLeaks, a worldwide anonymous publisher of sensitive and confidential documents, is releasing what it says are 91,000 raw military reports from US units in Afghanistan. According to their website, WikiLeaks says these documents were filed by military units from 2004 to 2010. Basically, the site claims it's the US military's own raw data on the war. (Get more info from the CNN story.)

Here's your challenge: Take a look through the documents and see what you can find of interest. Then share it here on CNN iReport. The documents can all be accessed on the WikiLeaks website.

Good luck, and please remember, this is raw military information. It includes sensitive information such as casualty numbers, so if you'd rather not see that, don't go any further.



Related Video from TED:

The controversial website WikiLeaks collects and posts highly classified documents and video. Founder Julian Assange, who's reportedly being sought for questioning by US authorities, talks to TED's Chris Anderson about how the site operates, what it has accomplished -- and what drives him. The interview includes graphic footage of a recent US airstrike in Baghdad.

Hey Joe

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where you goin' with that PDA in your hand?

db100725lg.gif + be clicking to enlarge, mon...

You Can't Beat It

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At least not when what you're beating is other than an ordinary Chinese citizen.

Chinese police beat official's wife by mistake

womanbeater.gifBEIJING (Reuters) - Plainclothes police severely beat the wife of a provincial official, mistaking her for one of many Chinese who petition government offices in the hope of redressing wrongs, the China Daily reported on Wednesday.

The case of mistaken identity has become a hot topic among Chinese Internet users, highlighting the abuse that China's armies of petitioners routinely suffer at the hands of police and hired thugs who wish to silence them.

Six public security officers set on Chen Yulian, the wife of a provincial law enforcement officer, last month when she tried to enter her husband's office building, which houses the Hubei provincial party headquarters, the China Daily said.

"This incident is a total misunderstanding," the Communist Party chief of the district bureau explained, according the newspaper. "Our police officers never realized that they beat the wife of a senior leader."

China's leaders are obsessed with maintaining social stability and "building a harmonious society" has been their chief concern in the recent years.

Thousands of petitioners take their grievances to Beijing every day. Many of their complaints stem from land seizures, while others seek redress for lay-offs dating from massive bankruptcies in China's state sector in the 1990s.

The men who beat Chen were later identified as public security officers from Wuhan, the provincial capital, who had been assigned to guard the office building and "subdue" petitioners.

"A strong wave of fists rained down on her for more than 16 minutes," the report said.

Chen was knocked to the ground despite her attempt to explain that her husband worked in the office building. She was then transported to a police station and yelled at when she requested medical attention, according to the paper's account.

The attack left her with a concussion, and damaged brain and nerve tissues. Chen was released and sent to hospital after she reached her husband by phone, and ranking police officers apologized profusely.

"Does this mean the police are not supposed to beat leaders' wives, but the ordinary people can be battered?" the China Daily quoted an anonymous visitor to Chen's ward as saying.

Windows 7: Not All That?

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I've been using Win7 since the Beta versions were first released and I think it's the most stable and productive OS Microsoft has produced yet. Personally, I feel Win7 is to Vista what XP was to ME. Yet apparently a lot of people and businesses are sticking with XP and running it on relatively old machines(4-5 years).

Maybe too many people felt burned by the irritating messy aspects of Vista and the word got around the corporate world that shifting from XP wasn't such a good idea given their 10 year old investment and familiarity with XP and the fact that both Vista and especially Win7 generally requires a hardware as well as software upgrade.

All I know is that after a having used Win7 for over a year now, is that whenever I get on an XP machine, it feels really clunky, slow and somehow obtuse.

Windows 7 Momentum Called Into Question

Posted by: Ed Tittel

Windows 7 enterprise momentum called into doubt, enterprise Windows 7 adoptions still modest, Microsoft may not meet its Windows 7 sales projections
Hey! I just read a fascinating ditty in Jason Hiner's recent Between the Lines blog for ZDNet; it's entitled "74% of work PCs still run XP, and they're 4.4 years old". This item does a short, scary, and convincing job of calling the big wins into question that Microsoft has been reporting for sales of Windows (150 million copies sold as of the end of May, or 7 copies per second since the official release in October 2009) -- at least, as far as enterprise sales and adoptions are concerned.

Let me explain. Hiner reports that Microsoft shared what can only be call "very interesting numbers" at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2010. At that summit, MS Windows Corporate VP Tammi Reller revealed that 74 percent of business computers still run Windows XP, and also indicated that the average age for corporate PCs is 4.4 years. These are surprising numbers, especially in light of other surveys on enterprise/business OS pilot, adoption, and use plans. They could also spell disappointment for Steve Ballmer's prediction last Monday (July 12, 2010) that Microsoft would sell 350 million copies of Windows 7 by the end of this year.

Given the low current adoption rate Microsoft is convinced that it's a golden opportunity that will result in huge sales for the foreseeable future. And certainly, a PC fleet that's averaging around four-and-a-half years old is past due for a hardware refresh as well -- especially if you put any credence into studies about the IT hardare lifecycle, which indicates that machines over three years old become increasingly difficult and expensive to support, and that five years is about as much productive life as any organization should try to squeeze of its PCs (and for notebooks, the cycle is more like 3-4 years, given increased wear and tear to which mobile machines are subject).

On the other hand, Hiners observes that with 74 percent of corporate machines still running XP, and with Windows 8 now under discussion, it's possible that some portion (maybe even a substantial one) of this population may decide to stay put, and wait even longer to upgrade. Just for grins, I took the survey on his blog page to see how previous readers have reacted to a couple of questions, and those results firmly underscore the notion that what MS spins as an opportunity could also result in fewer sales than projected:
POLL info:

Question #1: does your company plan on upgrading to Win 7?
67% - No
33% - Yes

Question #2: Avg age of your PC's

Less than 2 yrs - 9%
2 - 4 yrs old - 53%
over 4 yrs - 38%

Or so it would seem sometimes

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obama.fox.jpg

You'll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing

By Maureen Dowd

The Obama White House is too white.

It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran.

But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand "the slave thing," as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.

The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him -- a long political tradition underscored by Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 when she complained about the "smart-ass white boys" from Walter Mondale's campaign who tried to boss her around.

Otherwise, this administration will keep tripping over race rather than inspiring on race.

Welcome to Global Warming Stage 2

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Dam fails in eastern Iowa, causing massive flooding

iowadamfailure.jpgA dam on an eastern Iowa lake suffered a "catastrophic" failure Saturday, sending a massive amount of water into nearby communities and forcing residents to flee, officials said.

The Lake Delhi dam, about 45 miles north of Cedar Rapids, failed as a result of "massive rain -- a very unusually high amount this season," according to Jim Flansburg, communications director for Gov. Chet Culver.

Culver told CNN that nearly 10 inches of rain had recently fallen in a 12-hour period in the area and was "too much water for the dam to hold."

The roads on either side of the dam -- which were part of the dam's containment measures -- apparently gave out as a result of the rainfall, Flansburg told CNN. The National Weather Service reported a 30-foot-wide gap in the berm alongside the dam.

Video showed massive amounts of water violently gushing from the pool behind the dam into the river below. Nearby homes and buildings were under water up to their eaves.

Evacuation sirens sounded about 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) for the approximately 700 residents of Hopkinton, who had about five minutes to flee, Flansburg said.

No injuries were reported.

The town of Monticello, where Culver was meeting with emergency personnel, was also under a flood warning. Culver activated the National Guard in the area to help with recovery efforts, his office said. Culver credited the lack of injuries to local officials providing early warning to residents in the flood plain about the possibility of a dam breach.

The governor said such a failure had never happened before.

gwarming.jpg

This speaks to a pet peeve of mine; how everything is turned into a commodity and no matter what its true intrinsic value might be, that value becomes subjugated to a market value.

Markets and Morality

By Troy Jollimore

Why_Some_Things_.jpg"With the collapse of communism, markets and the political theories that advocate expanding the market have been enjoying a considerable resurgence," writes Stanford University professor Debra Satz in her new book, "Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets." "Markets are not only spreading across the globe, but they are also extending to new domains, such as environmental pollution. For many people market institutions are assuming the role of an all-purpose remedy for the defects of the cumbersome government bureaucracies of the Western world, the poverty of the Southern world, and the coercive state control of the planned economies. This remains true despite the recent economic downturn."

Indeed, the market's stock has perhaps never been higher, and the idea that the voluntary exchange of goods between free individuals might answer every significant economic, social and even ethical question has perhaps never been more widely accepted. But in the midst of all this celebration of the market's virtues--and let us admit, as Satz is perfectly willing to admit, that a market can indeed be a very efficient and effective means of coordinating complicated activities among a large group of individuals with differing agendas--there are also some reasons for concern. Efficient, after all, does not necessarily imply admirable or just (or even, on occasion, tolerable). Moreover, technological advances have made available types of markets that were not possible before. Fertile women can now rent out their wombs for nine months and become surrogate mothers. And while it is not yet legal in this country for individuals to sell their kidneys and other bodily organs to those who need them, such a day may not be far off.

Indeed, given the current shortage of healthy organs, the creation of a market for them might seem not only inevitable but eminently sensible. And there is also, of course, the moral argument for allowing such sales: My kidneys are mine (if not, then whose are they?), and the fact that something is mine gives me certain rights over it, including, ordinarily, the right to sell it to someone else at a price that we both agree on. This argument forms the core of the standard libertarian explanation of why we should have free markets in organs, in surrogate motherhood, in prostitution and, indeed, in pretty much everything

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The Gulf oil spill dwarfs comprehension, but we know this much: it's bad. Carl Safina scrapes out the facts in this blood-boiling cross-examination, arguing that the consequences will stretch far beyond the Gulf -- and many so-called solutions are making the situation worse.


Cheap as it gets

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India develops world's cheapest "laptop" at $35

NEW DELHI -- India has come up with the world's cheapest "laptop," a touch-screen computing device that costs $35.

India's Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal this week unveiled the low-cost computing device that is designed for students, saying his department had started talks with global manufacturers to start mass production.

"We have reached a (developmental) stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything," he told a news conference.

He said the touchscreen gadget was packed with Internet browsers, PDF reader and video conferencing facilities but its hardware was created with sufficient flexibility to incorporate new components according to user requirement.

Sibal said the Linux based computing device was expected to be introduced to higher education institutions from 2011 but the aim was to drop the price further to $20 and ultimately to $10.

The device was developed by research teams at India's premier technological institutes, the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science.

India spends about three percent of its annual budget on school education and has improved its literacy rates to over 64 percent of its 1.2 billion population but studies have shown many students can barely read or write and most state-run schools have inadequate facilities.

Japanese Giant Salmanders

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Yikes! I didn't know these existed until now. Cute with teeth.


Giant Salamander: Earth's Largest Amphibian

by Takeyoshi Tochimoto

BB-Japanese-Giant-Salamander

This creature is considered a living fossil because it hasn't changed much in 30 million years. To put things in perspective, 30 million years ago our ancestors were little primates hanging from trees. It would be millions of years before some of these primates descended from the trees, and millions of years after that before the first humans.

The giant salamander lives in mountain streams and lakes and can grow up to 6 feet long. It has four digits on its front legs and five digits on its back legs and is covered with a slimy protective mucous. It spends most of its time walking on the river bottom, though it can swim quickly. On land, its small legs won't carry it and it must drag itself along.

Like many amphibians, the giant salamander is endangered due to habitat loss. Construction of dams converts  their free-flowing stream habitats into standing water or dries them up completely. They are also vulnerable to water pollution from mining activity and farming throughout their range.

Other threats to their habitat includes deforestation around the streams. This exacerbates soil erosion and causes increased runoff and siltation of the streams, reducing water quality and making it difficult for the salamanders to get enough oxygen through their skin. In addition, the giant salamander  is considered a delicacy and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.*

On the BBC News site, Dr. Takeyoshi Tochimoto, director of the Hanzaki Institute near Hyogo in western Japan, gives a guided tour of this unusual creature.  ("Hanzaki" is the local name for the giant salamander.) After watching this video, however, I have decided not to hug a giant salamander if I ever meet one.  They have a very large mouth and several hundred small teeth on the top and bottom and can bite if angry, causing serious injury. Generally, however, this is a shy and secretive animal and is unfortunately relatively easy to catch.

The End of Poverty

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will only be possible when we end capitalism.


Watch this documentary on Hulu and see why this is so:


Poverty will never end unless there are real solutions to end it; solutions based on economic justice and political changes.

In conjunction with our experts we have developed 10 Solutions to End Poverty.

Our goal is to get 10 million signatures (globally) in 10 years and to moblize your support to force our leaders to implement such policy changes.

10 Solutions to End Poverty

We The People Demand:

1. The full equality between men and women in public as well as private areas of life, a worldwide minimum wage of $20 per day and the end of child labor under the age of 16 with the creation of a subsidy for scholarship.

2. The guarantee of shelter, healthcare, education, food and drinking water as basic human rights that must be provided free to all.

3. A total redistribution of idle lands to landless farmers and the imposition of a 50% cap on arable land devoted to products for export per country, with the creation of a worldwide subsidy for organic agriculture.

4. An end to private monopoly ownership over natural resources, with a minimum of 51% local communal ownership in corporations, which control such resources as well as the termination of intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical drugs.

5. The cancellation of third world debt with no reciprocal obligations attached and the payment of compensation to Third World countries for historical as well as ecological debt.

6. An obligation of total transparency for any corporation with more than 100 employees and a 1% tax on all benefits distributed to shareholders of corporations to create unemployment funds.

7. The termination of tax havens around the world as well as free flow of capital in developing countries.

8. The cancellation of taxes on labor and basic consumption, the creation of a 2% worldwide tax on property ownership (expect basic habitation for the poor) and the implementation of a global 0.5% flat tax on all financial transactions with a total prohibition of speculation on food products.

9. An equal voting for developing countries in international organizations such as IMF, World Bank, WTO, and the termination of veto right for the permanent members of the UN Security Counsel.

10. A commitment by industrialized countries to decrease carbon emission by 50% over a ten-year period as well as reducing by 25% each developed country's consumption of natural resources.

We the people commit to not vote for a representative who would not endorse at least half of these propositions and to boycott any corporation which would oppose the implementation of any of these propositions.



My favorite part is the outting of Breitbart as scum.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Do Your Job or Quit

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You cannot use your religious beliefs to deny other people's theirs by way of you refusing to do the job you were hired for. Super simple...everything else is pure BS.

Bus driver says he was fired over Planned Parenthood dispute

A Texas bus driver has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was fired for his religious beliefs after refusing to transport a client to a Planned Parenthood office, court documents showed Wednesday.

Edwin A. Graning worked for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, Texas, for less than a year before he was let go in January. At the time, he told his supervisor that, "in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion," according to the lawsuit. Graning is an ordained Christian minister.

Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that offers a range of medical services to women, including those related to abortion, often draws the ire of anti-abortion groups in the United States, where the procedure is legal but fiercely controversial.

Graning's last day of employment was the same day he refused service.

He is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

"It's only because he voiced his religions beliefs that he was canned," Edward White III, Graning's lawyer, told CNN. "Employers have a legal responsibility to at least attempt to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs. ... CARTS clearly violated Mr. Graning's religious freedom."

White, who works for a public interest law group founded by evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, said CARTS sent a second driver to collect the client and took her and a friend to the Planned Parenthood office.

"While others may wish to make more of it, to CARTS this is just about our expectation that employees perform the duties they are hired for," David Marsh, general manager of CARTS, said in an e-mail message to CNN.

In addition to rides along fixed routes, CARTS offers some door-to-door service within its rural coverage area.

The lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for western Texas, Austin Division, was filed on July 14.

Let Your Little Light Shine

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An excellent video set to Joni Mitchell's "Shine"

Shine

by Joni Mitchell

Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on Wall Street and Vegas
Place your bets
Shine on the fishermen
With nothing in their nets
Shine on rising oceans and evaporating seas
Shine on our Frankenstein technologies
Shine on science
With its tunnel vision
Shine on fertile farmland
Buried under subdivisions

Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on the dazzling darkness
That restores us in deep sleep
Shine on what we throw away
And what we keep

Shine on Reverend Pearson
Who threw away
The vain old God
kept Dickens and Rembrandt and Beethoven
And fresh plowed sod
Shine on good earth, good air, good water
And a safe place
For kids to play
Shine on bombs exploding
Half a mile away

Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on world-wide traffic jams
Honking day and night
Shine on another asshole
Passing on the right!
Shine on the red light runners
Busy talking on their cell phones
Shine on the Catholic Church
And the prisons that it owns
Shine on all the Churches
They all love less and less
Shine on a hopeful girl
In a dreamy dress

Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on good humor
Shine on good will
Shine on lousy leadership
Licensed to kill
Shine on dying soldiers
In patriotic pain
Shine on mass destruction
In some God's name!
Shine on the pioneers
Those seekers of mental health
Craving simplicity
They traveled inward
Past themselves...
May all their little lights shine

© 2007; Crazy Crow Music

Careful with that upload, Eugene

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A great NY Times article on the dangers inherent in uploading your life to the web.


regret.acivity.jpg


The Web Means the End of Forgetting

By Jeffery Rosen

Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption "Drunken Pirate." After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was "unprofessional," and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her under-age students. As a result, days before Snyder's scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn't relate to matters of public concern, her "Drunken Pirate" post was not protected speech.

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing -- where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact. Examples are proliferating daily: there was the 16-year-old British girl who was fired from her office job for complaining on Facebook, "I'm so totally bored!!"; there was the 66-year-old Canadian psychotherapist who tried to enter the United States but was turned away at the border -- and barred permanently from visiting the country -- after a border guard's Internet search found that the therapist had written an article in a philosophy journal describing his experiments 30 years ago with L.S.D.

Why Shirley Sherrod Should Be Re-hired

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And why FOX News should be forced to admit it blatantly lied about her...Not to mention why the source of this crap, Andrew Breitbart, should be sued for slander and defamation:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Update: Agriculture secretary to review resignation of USDA worker

(CNN) -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.

"I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner," Vilsack said in a statement.

Go Dylan

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I love Ratigan...he gets it dead on

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Can't Make It Up Dept

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Man caught smuggling 18 monkeys in girdle

MEXICO CITY -- A man with a mysterious bulge under his T-shirt was stopped, searched and detained at Mexico City's international airport after authorities found 18 tiny endangered monkeys in a girdle he was wearing.

titi.monkey.jpgThe Public Safety Department said in a statement Monday that 38-year-old Roberto Cabrera arrived on a commercial flight Friday from Lima, Peru, when authorities noticed the bulge and conducted a body search.

The department says Cabrera was carrying the 6-inch titi monkeys in pouches attached to the girdle. Two of the monkeys were dead.
Cabrera was arrested on charges of trafficking an endangered species.

Cabrera told authorities he was carrying the monkeys in a suitcase but decided to put them in his girdle "so the X-rays wouldn't hurt them."

They basically are afraid of she will expose their schemes and scams.

If you want to help make sure Elizabeth Warren is appointed to head the new consumer finance protection agency, please take a minute and sign this online petition that will be presented to the President and then use the accompanying email opportunity to invite your friends to do the same.

The Real Reason Geithner Is Afraid of Elizabeth Warren

by John R. Talbott

Tim Geithner.jpgAs reported on HuffPost last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed opposition to the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner's views.

One can assume that Geithner, being very close to the nation's biggest banks, is concerned that Warren, if chosen, will exercise her new policing and enforcement powers to restrict those abusive practices at our commercial banks that have been harmful to consumers and depositors.

warren.jpgCertainly, Warren is not the commercial banking industry's first pick to serve in this new role. And unlike other legislation in which an industry's lobbying effort would naturally slow or cease once the legislation is passed, the new financial reform bill is continuing to attract enormous lobbying action from the banks. The reason is simple. The bill has been written to put a great deal of power as to how strongly it is implemented in the hands of its regulators, some of which remain to be chosen. The bank lobby will work incredibly hard to see that Warren, the person most responsible for initiating and fighting for the idea of a consumer financial protection group, is denied the opportunity to head it.

But this is not the only reason that Geithner is opposed to Warren's nomination. I believe Geithner sees the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as a threat to the very scheme he has utilized to date to hide bank losses, thus keeping the banks solvent and out of bankruptcy court and their existing management teams employed and well-paid.

Offering Relief to the Unemployed

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President Obama calls on Congress to take an up-or-down vote on extending unemployment benefits and to stop political maneuvering that Americans in need of assistance in limbo.

Pretty In Pink?

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OK. What sort of dude bothers to implant satanic horns in his skull and then drives a soccer mom's minvan?

Man With Horns Tries to Run Over Landlord in Minivan

horned.guy.jpgA Tulsa, Okla., body modification enthusiast turned his mug shot into a "mod shot."

Cops locked up the 28-year-old after he allegedly tried to run over his landlord in a '96 Ford Windstar on Tuesday night. The landlord reportedly jumped out of the way of Thornhill's minivan, escaping injury.

Thornhill was taken into custody on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and was released on bond. The suspect's mother has stated that she and the landlord "had been having problems with her son."

Myth Trumping Fact

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The Pundit Delusion

By Paul Krugman

The latest hot political topic is the "Obama paradox" -- the supposedly mysterious disconnect between the president's achievements and his numbers. The line goes like this: The administration has had multiple big victories in Congress, most notably on health reform, yet President Obama's approval rating is weak. What follows is speculation about what's holding his numbers down: He's too liberal for a center-right nation. No, he's too intellectual, too Mr. Spock, for voters who want more passion. And so on.

But the only real puzzle here is the persistence of the pundit delusion, the belief that the stuff of daily political reporting -- who won the news cycle, who had the snappiest comeback -- actually matters.

This delusion is, of course, most prevalent among pundits themselves, but it's also widespread among political operatives. And I'd argue that susceptibility to the pundit delusion is part of the Obama administration's problem.

What political scientists, as opposed to pundits, tell us is that it really is the economy, stupid. Today, Ronald Reagan is often credited with godlike political skills -- but in the summer of 1982, when the U.S. economy was performing badly, his approval rating was only 42 percent.

My Princeton colleague Larry Bartels sums it up as follows: "Objective economic conditions -- not clever television ads, debate performances, or the other ephemera of day-to-day campaigning -- are the single most important influence upon an incumbent president's prospects for re-election." If the economy is improving strongly in the months before an election, incumbents do well; if it's stagnating or retrogressing, they do badly.

Now, the fact that "ephemera" don't matter seems reassuring, suggesting that voters aren't swayed by cheap tricks. Unfortunately, however, the evidence suggests that issues don't matter either, in part because voters are often deeply ill informed.

Suppose, for example, that you believed claims that voters are more concerned about the budget deficit than they are about jobs. (That's not actually true, but never mind.) Even so, how much credit would you expect Democrats to get for reducing the deficit?

None. In 1996 voters were asked whether the deficit had gone up or down under Bill Clinton. It had, in fact, plunged -- but a plurality of voters, and a majority of Republicans, said that it had risen.

When ideas have sex

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Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is and that, through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, "ideas having sex with each other.

More Fun with Oil

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Fires rage for 15 hours after oil pipeline in China explodes


chinaexplosion.jpg

BEIJING -- An oil pipeline at a busy Chinese port exploded, causing a massive fire that burned for 15 hours before being put out Saturday.

State-run media said the pipeline blew up Friday evening and more than 2,000 firefighters worked overnight to control flames and further blasts on a second pipeline.

China Central Television showed flames raging among tanks at the port in the northern city of Dalian, and state media described flames of about 100 feet high.

The cause of the initial blast was not clear. The Xinhua News Agency said it happened after a tanker uploaded oil at the port. It said the tanker left safely.

A spokesman with the city's firefighting brigade said sporadic sparks could still be seen at the site Saturday morning, Xinhua reported. China National Radio said officials were considering the evacuation of about 600 homes nearby, but no-one was reported killed.

These People Deserve Jail Time

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How brown shirt can you get?

Utah identifies 2 allegedly behind immigrant list

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah officials said Friday they have identified at least two state workers who apparently accessed confidential documents to create a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants that was mailed to law enforcement officials and the news media.

Gov. Gary Herbert said the employees work for the Department of Workforce Services, which administers some public aid benefits. The employees have been placed on administrative leave.

"It was a very small group. The people identified certainly have some strong political opinions and seem to be frustrated around some of the issues around immigration," said Kristen Cox, executive director for the department.

Herbert said the state is not investigating the names on the list.

Newspapers and government officials started receiving the list of names and personal information this week, creating widespread fear in the Hispanic community. The anonymous mailing demands that those on the list be deported, although some named have said they are in the country legally.

The Utah attorney general's office also will investigate and decide whether to file charges.

"This tactic by these rogue employees to go out and single out people and their families -- and in fact falsely single out some of these families -- is deplorable," Herbert said.

The Republican Zombies Are Back

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There are two things absolutely worthless to engage in argument with; a person's magical thinking about religion or the Republican ideas of how economy works.

Redo That Voodoo

by Paul Krugman

Republicans are feeling good about the midterms -- so good that they've started saying what they really think. This week the party's Senate leadership stopped pretending that it cares about deficits, stating explicitly that while we can't afford to aid the unemployed or prevent mass layoffs of schoolteachers, cost is literally no object when it comes to tax cuts for the affluent.

And that's one reason -- there are others -- why you should fear the consequences if the G.O.P. actually does as well in November as it hopes.

For a while, leading Republicans posed as stern foes of federal red ink. Two weeks ago, in the official G.O.P. response to President Obama's weekly radio address, Senator Saxby Chambliss devoted his entire time to the evils of government debt, "one of the most dangerous threats confronting America today." He went on, "At some point we have to say 'enough is enough.' "

But this past Monday Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, was asked the obvious question: if deficits are so worrisome, what about the budgetary cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which the Obama administration wants to let expire but Republicans want to make permanent? What should replace $650 billion or more in lost revenue over the next decade?

His answer was breathtaking: "You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that's what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." So $30 billion in aid to the unemployed is unaffordable, but 20 times that much in tax cuts for the rich doesn't count.

The next day, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, confirmed that Mr. Kyl was giving the official party line: "There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."

Now there are many things one could call the Bush economy, an economy that, even before recession struck, was characterized by sluggish job growth and stagnant family incomes; "vibrant" isn't one of them. But the real news here is the confirmation that Republicans remain committed to deep voodoo, the claim that cutting taxes actually increases revenues.

It's not true, of course. Ronald Reagan said that his tax cuts would reduce deficits, then presided over a near-tripling of federal debt. When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top incomes, conservatives predicted economic disaster; what actually followed was an economic boom and a remarkable swing from budget deficit to surplus. Then the Bush tax cuts came along, helping turn that surplus into a persistent deficit, even before the crash.

But we're talking about voodoo economics here, so perhaps it's not surprising that belief in the magical powers of tax cuts is a zombie doctrine: no matter how many times you kill it with facts, it just keeps coming back. And despite repeated failure in practice, it is, more than ever, the official view of the G.O.P.

Why should this scare you?

Punching Porky

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OK - and the motive was?

Porky Pig allegedly beaten up at theme park

porkypig.jpgGURNEE, Ill. -- Police said authorities at Six Flags Great America ejected two off-duty employees from the theme park after they allegedly attacked a female colleague dressed as "Porky Pig."

Gurnee Police Sgt. Jon Ward says two young men took a photo with Porky on Monday afternoon, and then punched the mascot in the head 10 to 15 times.

Ward said park security detained the men until police arrived. He said the men were issued local ordinance citations for battery.

He said the suspects denied the attack, but witnesses confirmed the story.

The 24-year-old woman inside the mascot costume suffered headaches and a stiff neck.

The Future of Levi

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He probably should have gone into gay porn...at least he could've avoided the ridicule.

LEVI.jpg

It's hard not to imagine Levi Johnston as a blossoming real life "Rabbit" Angstrom as he approaches marriage to his baby's Yo-Yo mama to be followed by an empty unsatisfying existence attached to this family of snowgrifters. With his youth hockey stardom quickly receding in the rear view mirror, bank account nearly empty after his brief fling with fame, and a (now) nouveau-riche white trash family of snowbillys who never saw another persons dollar that they didn't want to pocket threatening lawsuits, he probably figured it was easier to join them rather than be haunted for every penny he will ever make working at a gas station to pay his child support bills.

Only in Alaska could a kid leave the family homestead run by a mom meth dealer and move down the social ladder by marrying into a former half-governors house. But such are the wages of sin when you boink the governors daughter in the backseat of your Camaro instead of settling for the front seat blow job. Sure, you could blame it on the Hurst shifter that got in the way, but avoiding pregnancy is all about making good choices and Levi chose unwisely.

In choosing to make an honest woman out of Snowpack Snooki, Levi may have hoped for a sincere and warm Mama Grizzly hug into the family, but Sarah Palin is as thin-skinned as Abe Foxman at Oktorberfest and she is not one to forget slights no matter how small. Witness her "statement" about the nuptials:

"Bristol, at 19, is now a young adult. As parents we obviously want what is best for our children, but Bristol is ultimately in charge of determining what is best for her and her beautiful son.

Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.

We pray that, as a couple, Bristol and Levi's relationship matures into one that will allow Tripp to grow up graced with two loving parents in his life"

Nice.

Now imagine holidays at the Palin family compound as Levi, Bristol, and little Tourniquet or whatever the hell his name is, make their way through the Palin yard cluttered with broken snowmobiles, old waterbed liners, and taxidermy mishaps, only to be greeted at the door by Gramma Sarah with " Bristol! Tourniquet!..oh..... Hi. Levi.". Sarah's nose wrinkling like she just smelled a moose fart, those lines around her pursed lips deepening even further with disapproval.

And remember this: she controls the purse strings for her shiftless family dependent upon her celebrity.

This is what you are signing up for, Levi Johnston.

This is your future and it is pretty fucked up.

hat tip Mr Baker

To Serve & Protect Toronto Style

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Testimony #8 from the G20-Reports from witnesses and subjects of police actions


IT WAS TRAUMATIZING TO EXPERIENCE THAT I HAVE NO RIGHTS...

Treating Seniors Like Inmates

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From a Letter to the Editor of the Lakeland Ledger:

Senior Institutionalization

Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. This way, the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheelchairs, etc., and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring so they could be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes, and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJs and legal aid would be free on request. There would be private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC, a TV, radio and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The "criminals" would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8 p.m. and showers once a week. They would live in tiny rooms, pay $5,000 per month and have no hope of ever getting out.

VAN NEWBERRY

Lakeland

hat tip to Maureen Heath

Supreme Irony

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who has made a habit of making decisions favoring law enforcement over the rights of the accused sees some chickens come home to roost:

Clarence Thomas' Suicidal, Epileptic Nephew Punched, Tasered

clarencethomas.jpgSupreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and family are "outraged" after his nephew was allegedly punched, pulled and tased at a New Orleans hospital, after a possible suicide attempt. The taser put him into a "massive epileptic seizure."

Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.

~Elbert Hubbard


"Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.

When the Supreme Court justice's nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.

Security guards "punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him," a statement from Thomas' family said.

Shortly afterwards, family members say, Thomas suffered a "massive epileptic seizure."

No Justice for Oscar Grant

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Chris Hayes Thursday tonight, on the Rachel Maddow show:

"A tragic trial ended with a bewildering verdict today in Los Angeles, California.

oscar-grant-iii.jpg"The case began on New Year's Day, 2009, when Oakland police received a report that there had been a fight on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train. When officers arrived, they detained a 22-year-old African American man named Oscar Grant and four of his friends. Then, transit police officer Johannes Mehserle arrived on the scene. As one officer kneeled on Oscar Grant's neck, Officer Mehserle shot Mr. Grant in the back. He shot Oscar Grant, an unarmed man who had committed no crime. A man who witnesses say was attempting to diffuse the situation. The trial of former Officer Mehserle was moved from Oakland to Los Angeles due to extensive media coverage in the Bay Area. Los Angeles prosecutors have not won a murder conviction in a police shooting since 1983.


"Officer Mehserle testified that he accidentally drew his gun, located on his right side, thinking it was his taser, which he kept on his left. Today, the Los Angeles County jury of four men and eight women could have found the former officer guilty of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life. But instead, after deliberating for about six hours over two days, they found Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant. The conviction carries a sentence of two to four years.

"What happened to Oscar Grant, a man who had committed no crime that day on the BART was, as it happens, caught on tape. I want you to take a look. The officer stands up and fires a shot down, killing Oscar Grant.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"It's hard to know what to say after seeing that video and seeing the verdict it resulted in. You can note that there was not a single African American juror. That it was in Los Angeles instead of Oakland. That even if Officer Mehserle was reaching for his taser it was completely and totally uncalled for. Was he going to put a jolt in Grant as he lay prone, for no reason?

"You can say that there are a lot of people in Oakland and California and across the country tonight dealing once again with a criminal justice system which seems unremittingly punitive when people that look like they do are accused of horrible things, and impossibly forgiving when those same people are the victims. Justice is rooted in fairness. This verdict specifically, and the system of criminal justice and law enforcement we've created in this country, isn't fair.

"And it's not justice."

Now watch this video by Rich Silverstein offered by Huffington Post of the event:

In reality, when you think you're seeing everything, you're really seeing nothing. But if you peel away some layers, all of a sudden you're looking at the gun; peel back another layer and all of a sudden you can see the expression of horror on Mehserle's face; or Oscar Grant's desperate pleading. In the following video, I sought to add depth to the original interpretation of this tragic event, in order to reveal more of the story. If you remember the first grainy footage following the shooting, dispel the ingrained "YouTube truth" you may be harboring, so that you can look for what's new, what wasn't there before. This video is best (indeed, should only) be watched on Full Screen mode with good speakers or headphones.

Too Ugly to Miss

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Think Japanese Supremes Drag...ewwwww

today's quote

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The Internet is like a cocktail party with a ninety second egg timer.

Craig - www.OnTheFenceWithJesus.com

The Best Hip Hop Routine Ever

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This stunned me...and from a ballet dancer yet!

Afghan War Microcosm

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Billions per month going mostly to the non-resident elite.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What the...

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Some people's kids....

Women of 'The Daily Show': Jon Stewart isn't sexist

Things have suddenly turned serious at "The Daily Show."

Following a recent report that the popular Comedy Central series and its host, Jon Stewart, are sexist, female staff members are fighting back.

More than 30 women at the satirical news program - including new correspondent Olivia Munn - signed off on an open letter on the show's website.

"While rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office," the letter reads. "In fact," it continues, "just like the men here, we're indispensable."

Women account for 40 percent of the staff, according to the letter, and they aren't "all shoved into the party-planning department (although we do run that, and we throw some kick-ass parties)." In reality, they're employed in a variety of roles, working as accountants, producers, researchers, talent coordinators, writers and correspondents.

While the women admit their jobs are challenging, they wouldn't have it any other way. "Why have we stayed for two, five, ten, fourteen years? Because it's challenging."

It probably also doesn't hurt to have 47-year-old Stewart - described in the letter as the opposite of sexist - for a boss.

"He can be quite charming," the letter explains. "He's also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth and - a lot of people don't know this - surprisingly funny."

Ultimately, the women say, "when it comes down to it, 'The Daily Show' isn't a boy's club or a girl's club, it's a family - a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family.


Random culled thought

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There is a book called "The Revolt of the Masses" by a Spanish philosopher named Ortega y Gasset. Here is a link to a .pdf copy of the book: http://www.pinkmonkey.com...

Here is quotation from the book:

"The rebellion of the masses may, in fact, be the transition to some new, unexampled organisation of humanity, but it may also be a catastrophe of human destiny."

Are we not precisely at this juncture in history? I would be willing to bet dollars to cents that these devices that surround us hold the keys to our unmaking and the keys to the creation of the world that we all wish to see realized. The unity of form is simple to comprehend: a dual recognition of same-ness and other-ness. i.e. we are all 99.9% genetically identical and we are all individuals simultaneously. This is a robust metaphysical lens through which to interpret our fellow earthlings as economic, political and social actors.

We have a bifurcated path and there is a troll on the bridge. The troll is technology and he will exact a fierce toll if we are not careful, the toll being the sacrifice of our shared Humanity.

Have you ever noticed that technology, in all its manifestations and beautiful chaos of creation, has two generalizable and constant trends? As time passes, technology at once grows physically smaller and physically closer to the user.

The next logical iteration of this trajectory is for humans to merge with the machine. We already have pacemakers for people who have faulty hearts. What will be the remedy for people with faulty souls? A mini-microchip installed at the brain stem that stimulates synapses, axon endings and dendrites to produce love? Talk about a world where romance and chivalry are dead.....

In the 1990s movie "With Honors", Brendan Frasier transforms his thesis on government at the behest of the lovely young woman he lives with. "Interactive television is going to save the world," he proclaims after trashing the pessimistic junk that would not make a difference for anyone... much to the chagrin of his famous professor and he wins the love of the girl.

Well, Youtube, (interactive television) which did not exist at the time the film was made or the Ortega y Gasset's book was penned, may very well save the world. It may unite the right people in the right place at the right time who create the next technological, economic, or political miracle that inspires the masses to "their better angels".

But not before it injects a cold sliver of fear across the globe first. The devil rears his ugly head before the redeemer shows his.

A great many of the user comments on youtube, especially around videos relating to international incidents or anything tinged with politics or religion is simply filled with hate speech. That speech does not disappear into the vacuum of anonymity, as the click of the mouse suggests. That speech goes somewhere... into the eyes and neural nets of the people all over the world who read it and ingest it.

We are witness to what one could term the "death of Political Correctness." The steam has been bottled up for so many decades that it makes quite a lot of sense that all the hate has to filter out first. You cannot force groups of people who would rather have little do to with one another to coexist peacefully. Just ask the Spaniards and the Aztecs. They tried and Cortes unslung his sword and destroyed their civilization.

We are approaching a threshold in which we can hardly stand to occupy the same space and place with one another and we are accelerating the process.

So, what do we do?

There are two places to speak and act from: abundance and prosperity, which equals possibility, life and creation or scarcity and hate, which equals anger, violence, and destruction.

Eros and Thanatos (the literary forces of love and death) have been, are, and will continue to be at play as the key actors in the human drama.

Freedom in this world is tantamount to the ability to intelligently and fully choose Eros over Thanatos as much as humanly possible.

The question then becomes, who will YOU be on the great stage of the world and what will you create? Which role do you play in the great human drama? You are constantly becoming something and you always have a choice in the matter. To say otherwise is to ultimately surrender your humanity, your dignity, your liberty.

"Most often times it happens, we live our lives in chains and we never even knew we had the key." (Already Gone by "The Eagles")

We can avoid the "catastrophe of human destiny" over which poor, old uncle Ortega y Gasset fretted so vehemently. And there is enough hope left to believe that America will be the first empire to stop its own decline dead in its tracks. As Winston Churchill once said: "The Americans always do the the right thing.... after they have done all the wrong things first."

Be who you already are: a CREATOR. Create something and do not stop creating until your creation is complete.

-A Teacher

Feeling Lucky, Punk?

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Well, are ya?


hat tip to Mr baker

Now here's a particularly disingenuous bowl of bigoted claptrap by Hawaii's governor.

Hawaii governor vetoes civil unions bill, says voters should decide

lingle.jpgHawaii Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill Tuesday that would have given same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, saying the issue needs to be put to a referendum.

"I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such significant societal importance that it deserves to be decided directly by all the people of Hawaii," Lingle said.

"The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day. It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials."

Gay rights group decried Lingle's decision.

"Today was the first time a civil unions bill passed both Houses in Hawaii by solid margins and was on the Governor's desk for signing," Jo-Ann Adams, chair of the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said in a statement. "With such broad support from the legislators, who are the elected officials closest to the public, and the consistent results of the professional polls showing broad support for civil unions as a civil rights issue, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor ignored the will of the people and vetoed the bill. "

Another group, Equality Hawaii, said the fight for equal rights will continue.

Read It and Weep

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More bad news about the psychotic drift toward deficit hawking. How do people get so sucked into their own echo chamber? Maybe we need to dismantle the entire beltway interior along with the Wall St crews. The hoarding neurosis is gaining strength daily it seems and we are being coached by the worst of them to just suck it up.

The War For Financial Independence: Calls to Surrender

by Richard (RJ) Eskow

There's a new conventional wisdom forming in Washington, DC this July 4th, one that transcends party lines and the usual classifications of "left" and "right" as they're understood in that city. It's only being recognized now, because it deals with a number of different economic issues, but the underlying theme is the same: The American dream of financial independence and security is gone. The sooner you accept that and raise the white flag the easier it will be, so stop struggling.

Theyre saying the ideal of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is dead. Deal with it.

Why, there hasn't been this much unanimity among Washington elites since - well, since they "knew" there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Here's what they "know" now: The United States is doomed to a future of staggeringly high unemployment. Social Security is part of our national deficit and, like that notorious village in Vietnam, we need to destroy it in order to save it. And we must face an open-ended future where the public treasury and personal security are held hostage to the whims of a few "too big to fail" banks.

Some of these "conventional wisdoms" have been around for years, while others are forming as we speak. Most of them began as politically partisan ideas, but have only been Sacred Truths for a few months. Yet they're already acquiring the false gravitas of ancient received wisdoms. What's the common thread behind these three ideas? They provide a rationale for not resisting the enormous political influence of corporations and wealthy Americans.

The last few days - ironically, those that led up to our celebration of Independence - saw a sudden rash of white-flag declarations. This latest wave of surrender demands involves joblessness. First Digby noted that Jonathan Alter said the following in an interview with Chris Hayes on the "Ed Show" : "We are going to have to accustom ourselves to some higher than, you know, old normal percentage of unemployment. You know, I don't know whether it's seven percent, six percent, whatever."

Before the viewer could utter a Scooby Doo "ruh-roh," The New Republic published a piece by William Galson called "America Will Never Be the Same." In reviewing a Pew study's findings on the Great Recession's impact, Galston writes: "... (W)e do have reason to believe that ... we're in for a slow recovery and historically high levels of unemployment for much of this decade." And, as if on cue, CNN Money published an piece called "7.9 million jobs lost - many forever."

I've written here before about the danger of unaccountable rhetoric turned into propaganda...sadly, here is a prime example of what I meant come to fruition in the worst way possible.

A Call for Violence Answered in Uganda: Gay Activist Found Beheaded

by Waymon Hudson

There's disturbing and sad news out of Uganda today. The severed head of Ugandan LGBT rights activist Pasikali Kashusbe was found in a latrine on a farm in Uganda. Pasikali and his partner Abbey are youth workers with Integrity Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT rights group. The two organized young LGBT people in activities which helped them prepare and face the challenge of homophobia that they encounter living in Uganda.

Police identified the head as that of Pasikali Kashusbe, after his friends and family had been looking for him since he disappeared nearly four weeks ago during the time when Uganda celebrated Martyrs Day:

According to the police, a mutilated torso which was earlier in the week discovered in Kabuuma Zone, about half a kilometre away from Kiggundu's farm was probably Pasikali's The torso was described as belonging to a young man and had no genitals.

While details on the suspects and arrests in the case remain vague, the violent and horrific nature of this murder only further highlight the danger of being LGBT in Uganda that goes far deeper than the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that captured world attention due to its draconian harsh punishments and death penalties for gay Ugandans and their allies.

Here is a video news report from from NTV Uganda:


One cannot help but draw the connection between this violent murder and the recent calls for violence and bloodshed from American Evangelicals visiting Uganda in support of the "Kill the Gays" Bill.

Evangelical extremist Lou Engle held a massive rally called "TheCall Uganda" in which he praised the Bill and called upon the government of Uganda to be firm and "hold on its righteous stand against the evil."

Engle has repeatedly encouraged his followers to be martyrs for their faith, calling homosexuality a "spirit of lawlessness" and called for "martyrs" to become "God's Avengers of Blood" to stop the "homosexual agenda" at all cost. Engle's bloody message makes no qualms about violence, including rhetoric like:

The most "dangerous terrorist" is not Islam but God. One of God's names is the avenger of blood. Have you worshipped that God yet?

It is this message that was exported to Uganda in early May. And it is a call that has been answered.

Good thing too, given the hysteria and non-facts that spawned the Arizona legislation

Justice Dept. challenges Ariz. immigration law

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and the state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix argues that Arizona's law requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws such as traffic violations usurps federal authority.

"In our constitutional system, the federal government has pre-eminent authority to regulate immigration matters," the lawsuit says. "This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation's immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests."

The government is seeking an injunction to delay the July 29 implementation of the law until the case is resolved. It ultimately wants the law declared invalid.

The government contends that the Arizona law violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution, a legal theory that says federal laws override state laws. It is already illegal under federal law to be in the country illegally, but Arizona is the first state to make it a state crime and add its own punishment and enforcement tactics.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, the principal sponsor of the bill co-sponsored by dozens of fellow Republican legislators, denounced the lawsuit as "absolute insult to the rule of law" as well as to Arizona and its residents.

"It's outrageous and it's clear they don't want (immigration) laws enforced. What they want is to continue their non-enforcement policy," Pearce said. "They ignore the damage to America, the cost to our citizens, the deaths" tied to border-related violence.

Don't build your home, grow it!

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Ready to live in a house made of meat?

Flipped out, I know, but this is a beautiful idea worth pursuing.

Patriotic Onion

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You know how they can make you tear up, this might have the same effect.


Restoration Of 'Star Spangled Banner' Uncovers Horrifying New Verses

Dawn Comes Slow

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xshine.jpg
Strong and Wrong

by Joni Mitchell

Strong and wrong you win--
Only because
That's the way its always been.
Men love war!
That's what history' s for.
History...
A mass--murder mystery...
His story

Strong and wrong
You lose everything
Without the heart
You need
To hear a robin sing
Where have all the songbirds gone?
Gone!
All I hear are crows in flight
Singing might is right
Might is right!

Oh the dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
And here we are...
Still worshiping
Our own ego

Strong and wrong
What is God's will?
Onward Christian soldiers...
Or thou shall not kill...
Men love war!
Is that what God is for?
Just a Rabbit's foot?
Just a lucky paw
For shock and awe?
Shock and awe!

The dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
Here we are
Still worshiping
Our own ego
Strong and Wrong!
Strong and Wrong!



© 2007; Crazy Crow Music

Chart of the Day

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Reminder, The Deficit You're Freaking Out About IS Bush's Fault

President Obama's administration has been blamed for reckless spending that has put America into its But in reality, much of that spending emanates from policies of President Bush, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

They argue that Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Bush tax cuts (along with the economic downturn) are what is driving the U.S. deficit, not stimulus spending. The CBPP focuses on lower to middle income issues and may be directly involved with the Democratic Party.

The chart presents the ugly truth.

chart-of-the-day-bush-policies.gif


Incredible Muslim Male Stupidity

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What this sort of barbarous behavior of Sharia punishments against women demonstrates is how extremely insecure and irrational Muslim men are. Such typical Sharia horror stories are a direct result of allowing religion to dominate cultural behavior and thinking. I spit in the face of all Muslim men who in their weakness and false piety do not speak out against such indefensible murderous cruelty.


Iranian mother of two to be stoned to death


An Iranian human rights activist warns Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities.

Only an international campaign designed to pressure the regime in Tehran can save her life, according to Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty.

"Legally it's all over," Ahadi said Sunday. "It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute."

"That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help."

Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.

Ashtiani, who is from the northern city of Tabriz, was convicted of adultery in 2006.

She was forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei said Thursday in a telephone interview from Tehran.

She later retracted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, Mostafaei said. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency.

Iran's supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007.

UPDATE: Worldwide Protests have results

Iranian Embassy: Widow will not be stoned to death

Wanna see something really scary?

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The first of three is the least solvable and the most unfathomable.

Punishing the Jobless

By Paul Krugman

There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.

But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?

The answer is that we're facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it's possible to clear up some of the confusion.

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do -- including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation's economic pain -- improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don't pretend to be shocked: you know they're out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: "You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn't pay as much. We've put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry."

Now, I don't have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle's view of the world -- and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her.


Over-Consumption is a Sport?

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I see it more as a mental condition. What an insane way to earn a living.

"Let him eat...let him eat!!!" the crowd chanted

Former hot dog eating champ arrested

kobayashii.jpgNY -- He didn't compete for the hot dog eating title this year, but he did cause a scene at the contest.

Takeru Kobayashi was arrested at Coney Island after his rival, Joey Chestnut, won the annual Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The six-time champion of the contest was trying to make his way on stage after this year's event, according to a representative for Kobayashi and a New York police officer at the Brooklyn precinct booking desk.

This year's competition had already caused a stir after word that Kobayashi -- who took home the title every year from 2001 to 2006 -- would not be participating because of a contract dispute with Major League Eating. He watched from the stands.

Kobayashi was trying to prove he was better than other competitors, said Yuki James, one of Kobayashi's handlers.

Chestnut won by consuming 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The win -- Chestnut's fourth straight -- was short of his 68-hot dog record set last year.

A statement from the New York Police Department's public affairs office following the arrest said Kobayashi was charged with two misdemeanors and one violation, with the violation considered a low-level charge similar to a traffic violation. The two misdemeanors were resisting arrest and obstructing government administration (specifically, interfering with police). The violation was trespassing.

From the 2007 contest:

This is so brilliant!


According to the highly nonpartisan lineup of talking heads on "Fox & Friends," the statute of limitations has officially passed for blaming the Bush administration for any stuff that's hit the fan since W. left office. This includes situations the former president clearly had a hand in, as well as, according to former Gov. Jeb Bush, the common cold symptoms suffered by his brother's detractors. Jon Stewart would like to set the record straight in this clip from Tuesday night's show. --KA

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Blame
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

How stupid is stupid?

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Here's a good definitive example:

TX Rep. Louis Gohmert Warns of Terrorist Babies:

July 03, 2010 "KOLD News" June 29, 2010 -- Citing a "retired F.B.I. agent" as his source, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, said on the floor of Congress last week that terror cells are plotting to breed future terrorists inside the United States.

Who raised U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert? He sounds like a terrorist stoking fears himself.
And he has a lot of nerve to being talking about what's stupid.

Questions of Transparency

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The photographer was on a public road. This increasingly ubiquitous extralegal handing over of authority to corporate police is incredibly disturbing.

Its understandable that refineries need to be guarded against terrorists acts, but from where does the authority of BP police to bar press people from public access beaches and other areas derive? And why is the government via Chad Allen blocking access to public areas as the clean up progrsses? Check First Amendment Has been Suspended

Photographer detained by police, BP employee near refinery


bp-plant.jpgA photographer taking pictures of a BP refinery in Texas was detained by a BP security official, local police and a man who said he was from the Department of Homeland Security, according to ProPublica, a non-profit news organization in the U.S.

The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said he was confronted by the officials shortly after arriving in Texas City, Texas, to work on a story that is part of an ongoing collaboration between PBS and ProPublica.

Rosenfield was released after officials looked through the pictures he had taken and took down his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information, the photographer said. The information was turned over to the BP security guard who said this was standard procedure, ProPublica quoted Rosenfield as saying.

Rosenfield, a Texas-based freelance photographer, said he was followed by a BP employee after taking a picture on a public road near the refinery, and then cornered by two police cars at a gas station. The officials told Rosenfield they had the right to look at the pictures taken near the refinery and if he did not comply he would be "taken in," the photographer said according to ProPublica.

BP gave ProPublica the following statement after the incident:

"BP Security followed the industry practice that is required by federal law. The photographer was released with his photographs after those photos were viewed by a representative of the Joint Terrorism Task Force who determined that the photographer's actions did not pose a threat to public safety."
In response to BP, ProPublica's editor-in-chief Paul Steiger said:
"We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation's refineries. But we're deeply troubled by BP's conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility. And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company."

When msnbc.com contacted BP, spokeswoman Sheila Williams said there was nothing the firm wanted to add to its earlier comment.

ProPublica filed two recent reports about BP. One deals with the similartities between the 2005 explosion at the Texas City refinery and the blast at Deepwater Horizon, and another is about thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals that were release by the refinery earlier this year.

The pictures

A Michelle Message

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Supporting Our Military Families

Posted by Kori Schulman

This Independence Day, First Lady Michelle Obama has a special message for all Americans about supporting our military families:

The First Lady is asking 100 percent of Americans to support the brave men and women in uniform and their families back home. Here are some things you can do in your community to get started:

  • Stay informed about the activities and concerns of military families in your community and across the nation;
  • Take time out to get to know and express appreciation to military families;
  • Help ensure military families have the opportunity to share their stories and voice their concerns in your community;
  • Help ensure the places where you work, worship, and participate in community life connect their activities to addressing military families' unique challenges; and
  • Identify opportunities in your communities to tap into the unique skills, experience and commitment to service our military families display each day.

Today, the First Family will host more than 1,200 military heroes and their families for a Fourth of July celebration at the White House. Tune in for the Second Annual "Salute to the Military" USO Concert, featuring The Killers, Brandi Carlile, Cedric "The Entertainer," and "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band. The evening wraps up with a viewing of the fireworks on the National Mall. You can watch the whole thing live on WhiteHouse.gov/live starting at 7 PM EDT. Happy Independence Day!

46 July 4ths Ago

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In 1964, when I was 15 yrs old, LBJ signed the Civil Rights legislation started by JFK that would put an end to the Jim Crow laws and a NY Times article accompanied by a photo of 13-year-old Gene Young of Kansas City being shorn by a white barber at the Muehlebach Hotel shop, a previously Whites Only barbershop, read:

civil-rights-act-full.jpg
NEGROES IN SOUTH TEST RIGHTS ACT; RESISTANCE LIGHT

A Steak House in Virginia and a Pool in Georgia Are Integrated Peacefully BIRMINGHAM IS OBEYING Chamber of Commerce Asks Compliance in Jackson -- Atlanta Cafe Defiant Negroes in South Test New Law; Resistance Light in Most Areas

By Peter Millones

July 4, 1964, Saturday

Negroes ate steak side by side with whites in a Danville, Va., restaurant yesterday for the first time. A Negro boy got a haircut in a previously all-white hotel barbershop in Kansas City, Mo. And Negroes went swimming in a previously segregated swimming pool in Savannah, Ga......


Imagine that.

Mind you, as Franks Rich points out his excellent column today

"that Norman Rockwell-like tableau was paired with the image of a white businessman, Lester Maddox, and a teenage accomplice respectively wielding a pistol and an ax handle as they turned away blacks from Maddox's restaurant in Atlanta. The summer of 1964, which had begun with the lynching of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Miss., would soon erupt in a bloody wave of terrorism, marked by dozens of bombings of black churches, homes and businesses. "

So it goes...when you live in a society that is "still very much a work in progress".

Before the American war for independence was the American Colonist aided 17th century British Civil War no one talks much about at all.

The interesting thing about these colonists was their radicalism, their revolutionary fervor. They were Puritans -- but they were more than that. They were merchant-venturers, looking for new markets and business opportunities. They were more than that, too. They were idealists, who went to extraordinary lengths and traveled extraordinary distances to fight for the chance to build a fairer society.


America's Revolution: The Prequel

By Adrian Tinniswood

Bath, England

Picture the scene: Out of the dawn mist, a fleet of longboats glides across the water, packed full of musket-wielding patriots and weather-beaten Massachusetts militiamen. Standing in the prow of the lead boat, like Washington crossing the Delaware, is a man with long flowing hair and a blood-red banner emblazoned with two words: Vincat veritas. Truth Conquers.

But it's not Washington, and it's not the American Revolution. In fact, it's not even America. This daring amphibious assault by Col. Thomas Rainborowe and his regiment of New Englanders took place 3,000 miles away, in old England, and in 1644, more than 130 years before those famous shots were fired at Lexington to herald what we Brits insist on calling the War of American Independence.

It is a fact rarely discussed on either side of the Atlantic that American colonists played a crucial role in the English Civil War, the bitter struggle between King Charles I and Parliament that tore England apart in the 1640s. The English Revolution -- and that is just what it was -- can be interpreted in all kinds of ways: as a religious fight between pathologically earnest Puritans and the Catholic-leaning bishops of the Church of England; as an uprising by a nascent merchant class determined to throw off the shackles of medieval feudalism; as right-but-repulsive Roundheads bashing the wrong-but-romantic Cavaliers.

It was all those things. But it was also a battle against the arbitrary tyranny of the crown that prefigured America's own struggle for independence. And hundreds of American colonists cared enough about that struggle to sail back across the vast Atlantic, to build a city upon a hill -- not in the frightening, alien landscape of Massachusetts but in the familiar fields and townships of England.

Most of these men were linked by friendship, business or marriage to the Rainborowes, a charismatic clan of English merchant-mariners, pioneers and visionaries who moved back and forth between the Old World and the New in the 1630s and 1640s.

Thoughts for the 4th

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Song of Freedom

By J.M. Bernstein

When Janis Joplin achingly sang that "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," she (or the song's composer, Kris Kristofferson) was critiquing a widely held ideal of independence: namely, the aspiration toward maximum liberty from all binding attachments and obligations. Isn't it obvious, the argument goes, that each promise, and each unbreakable emotional bond, entails a loss of true freedom, an abrogation of true independence? Joplin's refutation is simple and elegant: in actuality, absolute freedom is a picture of perfect emptiness, since if you have nothing left to lose, you have nothing.

However much the ideal of unencumbered freedom has become associated with the Declaration of Independence, freedom from binding attachments is no part of its philosophical underpinnings. In protesting against British tyranny, the American colonists were not proclaiming an ideal of individual freedom from government. On the contrary, they were pleading the cause for a vital conception of political community.

No words are more redolent of this ambition than the concluding sentence of the Declaration: "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." What stands behind "The Declaration," providing it with all the support it can possibly have, is the "mutual pledge" of its signatories. Their pledging to one another everything - not just their fortunes and honor as individuals, but their very lives - is the ethical substance of the document. It is how the American "we" steps onto the world stage.

Too often in the reading of "The Declaration" its background assumptions - the resounding words of its preamble - are unduly privileged. What we take to be self-evident, that all men are equal and endowed with unalienable rights, is intended to be explanatory about why we have systems of government and what they are meant to do - protect those rights.

However, it is neither the rights themselves nor their self-evidence that the preamble is emphasizing - they were commonplace notions of the time; and, even if they were not, a list of self-evident moral truths would still be idle in practice if no one paid attention to them.

As a posse of philosophers has argued, following the lead of Hannah Arendt's "On Revolution," the ground note of the preamble is Jefferson's "incongruous phrase" "We hold," with its implication that the self-evident truths that follow were somehow lacking in authority despite their divine sanction. It is that "we" taking those truths as definitive of the human condition that made them the very "we" that founded this nation. Holding, pledging, and binding themselves to those truths gave them a political identity, a political "we," and gave those truths political authority and significance.

Ever since Lincoln revived the Declaration to provide a corrective to the Constitution, it has been easy to forget what a work of collective self-making the Declaration is. And while the words of the preamble were indeed fateful in the overthrow of slavery, the remainder of the document does not mention individual liberty or individual rights; rather, it is concerned with who "we" Americans already are as a political community, and how the British king and Parliament have committed "repeated injuries and usurpations" that violently attack the integrity of our political community.

At present, we hear much talk of how government is failing, how it, that "thing," the government is betraying the people, as if there were some absolute divide between the people and government, as if there were some notion of absolute freedom that was compromised by its attachments to political community. There is, finally, no "people" apart from the government, and no government apart from the people, there is no "I" without this "we," and no "we" without each "I." When the founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to each other, thus creating the "we" of America, they understood that such a pledge was the condition under which life, liberty, and happiness could be pursued; without that pledge, there would be nothing left to lose. Janis and the founders are here in profound agreement.

Blasphemy Laws?

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Seriously? I didn't even know this sort of insanity was even extant. Good riddance, I say.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Blasphemy Law

by John Turley

U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson has issued a major decision in favor of free speech and free association. In a 68-page decision, Baylson struck down Pennsylvania's blasphemy law.

While I have written on the encroachment of blasphemy laws in the West, this is a case of a positive move in the opposite direction.

The case (Kalman v. Cortes) was brought by a filmmaker who was told that he could not name his company "I Choose Hell Productions." Baylson ruled that he found that "the statute's plain language makes apparent its predominantly religious purpose." He found that the law "unequivocally excludes only one religious perspective but not the other, as it permits speech deemed reverent to religious beliefs, yet excludes speech deemed irreverent to religious beliefs."

Chief Deputy Attorney General Barry N. Kramer argued that the statute should survive the constitutional challenge because it was needed to protect the public from offensive, indecent and profane expression.

Here is the opinion: Kalman Opinion

SCotUS Diversity?

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Right. Sure thing.

supremes-ivy.jpg

Fears of Deficit Bogeymen

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Why is so much of ruinous American policy based on fear and not fact? Whether it's terrorism or war or drugs or sexual politics so much of American policy is reactionary and based on cultural myths and an adamant refusal to let go of them. Why is that?
What?...It's class warfare? Who's winning?

Myths of Austerity

By Paul Krugman

When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

Which brings me to the subject of today's column. For the last few months, I and others have watched, with amazement and horror, the emergence of a consensus in policy circles in favor of immediate fiscal austerity. That is, somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world's major economies remain deeply depressed.

This conventional wisdom isn't based on either evidence or careful analysis. Instead, it rests on what we might charitably call sheer speculation, and less charitably call figments of the policy elite's imagination -- specifically, on belief in what I've come to think of as the invisible bond vigilante and the confidence fairy.

Bond vigilantes are investors who pull the plug on governments they perceive as unable or unwilling to pay their debts. Now there's no question that countries can suffer crises of confidence (see Greece, debt of). But what the advocates of austerity claim is that (a) the bond vigilantes are about to attack America, and (b) spending anything more on stimulus will set them off.

What reason do we have to believe that any of this is true? Yes, America has long-run budget problems, but what we do on stimulus over the next couple of years has almost no bearing on our ability to deal with these long-run problems. As Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, recently put it, "There is no intrinsic contradiction between providing additional fiscal stimulus today, while the unemployment rate is high and many factories and offices are underused, and imposing fiscal restraint several years from now, when output and employment will probably be close to their potential."

Nonetheless, every few months we're told that the bond vigilantes have arrived, and we must impose austerity now now now to appease them. Three months ago, a slight uptick in long-term interest rates was greeted with near hysteria: "Debt Fears Send Rates Up," was the headline at The Wall Street Journal, although there was no actual evidence of such fears, and Alan Greenspan pronounced the rise a "canary in the mine."

Since then, long-term rates have plunged again. Far from fleeing U.S. government debt, investors evidently see it as their safest bet in a stumbling economy. Yet the advocates of austerity still assure us that bond vigilantes will attack any day now if we don't slash spending immediately.

Google Ahead of the Curve

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Isn't it great when a corporation acts in a socially responsible manner? Too bad it's so incredibly rare.

Google plans to pay gay employees more

Google is set to begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, according to a report in the New York Times.

The increased pay is largely to compensate these workers for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year, the newspaper said.

Google is not the first large company to make up for the extra tax, the Times reported, adding that Google's move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, as they compete for the same talent.

Right now Google offers benefits to the spouses or partners of both straight and gay employees.

Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income, if the partner is not considered a dependent, the newspaper said, noting that the tax owed is based on the value of the partner's coverage paid by the employer.

Citing a study, the Times said employees with domestic partners will pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage. Google will essentially cover those costs, the newspaper said, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.

Elian Gonzalez at 16

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I wrote a tune inspired by Elian's predicament back in '99 called "These Days".
I was just looking at the lyrics and realized how little has changed since then.
The lyrics, which follow this article, begin:

These days belong
to a small boy rescued and then bandied as an icon...


Elian Gonzalez is not angry at Miami relatives

by Will Weissert AP

elian.gonzalez.jpgHAVANA -- Elian Gonzalez says he's not angry at his Miami relatives who fought to keep him in the United States during a nasty international custody battle a decade ago, and is thankful "a large part of the American public" supported him being reunited with his father in Cuba.

Now 16, Gonzalez's first comments to foreign reporters in years came after President Raul Castro attended a state celebration Wednesday night marking the 10th anniversary of the famous ex-castaway's return to the island.

"Even though they didn't help me in every way possible, they didn't help me move forward, they are still my own family," Gonzalez said of his South Florida relatives, speaking in a shy, almost timid voice.

"I don't have anger for them," he said. "It's only that it wasn't the best effort possible, and thanks to a large part of the American public, and our public, today I'm with my father and I feel happy here."

elian2.jpgWhen asked about the family's Miami relatives, however, Gonzalez's father, Juan Miguel, shot back that he was still angry, "because, at any moment, having the boy there and with me giving them opportunities so they can reunite the family, they let themselves get carried away with other things."

He added that bringing his son back was still the right thing to do, saying, "today I'm more sure than I was then."

Elian was a photogenic 5-year-old when a fisherman found him floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day 1999, after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach American soil. His father, who was separated from his mother, had remained on the island.

From the stuff you can't make up dept

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Police Taser bed-ridden 86-year-old

A group of police officers are being sued after they shot a disabled 86-yearold woman with a Taser gun - twice.

They allegedly sent 50,000 volts coursing through Lona Varner to subdue her as she lay in bed.

Some of the ten officers at the scene are also accused of standing on the hose to Ms Varner's oxygen mask 'until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation' in an attempt to calm her.

Grandson Lonnie Tinsley said he screamed 'don't Tase my granny' before she passed out from shock.

The details emerged in a lawsuit the family is bringing against police in Oklahoma for wrongful arrest, assault, battery and emotional distress.

The incident happened in December when Lonnie visited his grandmother in El Reno.

Suspecting she had taken an overdose of pills, he called for an ambulance but instead ten police officers burst into the home, he claimed.

Officer Thomas Duran said he ordered his colleagues to shoot after the old woman took a 'more aggressive posture in bed'.

She then pulled a kitchen knife from under her pillow and threatened to kill him, he added. Ms Varner was hit once but the metal barb carrying the charge did not stick so a second shot was fired. She was then allegedly dragged from her bed and handcuffed. She was held at a mental hospital for six days.

It is not the first time El Reno police have faced controversy over Taser use.

In 2008 an uncooperative driver was shot after a crash.

They believed he was acting aggressively but it turned out he was falling into diabetic shock.

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