September 2010 Archives

Inside Job Official Trailer

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Gotta see this one.

From Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson ("No End In Sight"), comes Inside Job, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, Inside Job traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

Affirmative Action for the Rich

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The next time somebody argues with you about the unfairness of affirmatives actions for people of color or sex, throw this little tidbit into the mix.

Elite Colleges, or Colleges for the Elite?

by Richard Kahlenberg

Today's populist moment, with a growing anger directed at the elites who manipulate the system to their advantage, is an opportune time to examine higher education's biggest affirmative action program -- for the children of alumni.

At our top universities, so-called legacy preferences affect larger numbers of students than traditional affirmative action programs for minority students, yet they have received a small fraction of the attention. Unlike the issue of racial preferences, advantages for alumni children -- who are overwhelmingly white and wealthy -- have been the subject of little scholarship, no state voter initiatives and no Supreme Court decisions.

Among selective research universities, public and private, almost three-quarters employ legacy preferences, as do the vast majority of selective liberal arts colleges. Some admissions departments insist they are used only as tie-breakers among deserving applicants. But studies have shown that being the child of an alumnus adds the equivalent of 160 SAT points to one's application (using the traditional 400-to-1600-point scale, and not factoring in the new writing section of the test) and increases one's chances of admission by almost 20 percentage points.

At many selective schools, legacies make up 10 percent to 25 percent of the student population. By contrast, at the California Institute of Technology, which has no legacy preferences, only 1.5 percent of students are the children of alumni.

Legacy preferences are often justified as a way of building loyalty among alumni, sustaining tradition and increasing donations. But there is no hard evidence to prove this. A study by Winnemac Consulting for the Century Foundation found that from 1998 to 2007, at the nation's top 100 national universities, if one controls for the wealth of alumni, "there is no statistically significant evidence of a causal relationship between legacy preference policies and total alumni giving." Moreover, the study found that at the seven universities that dropped legacy preferences during the time of the study, alumni giving didn't decline.

Legacy preferences are "virtually unknown in the rest of the world," according to Daniel Golden, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The paradox is that while they are an American contrivance, they are also un-American, standing in direct contradiction to Thomas Jefferson's famous call to promote a "natural aristocracy" based on "virtue and talent." The Old World nature of hereditary preferences may explain why, in a 2004 poll by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Americans opposed such preferences by 75 percent to 23 percent.

Legacy preferences may also be illegal. Although in 1976 a federal court ruled in a passing mention that legacy preferences are constitutional, the issue has never been properly litigated. Today, new legal arguments have been advanced questioning legacy preferences at both public and private universities.

A great idea. And now will follow the calls to regulate it, which is just as stupid as making it illegal. What's the difference between consenting adult relations with or without money being involved? Non-monetary relationships don't require regulation so why should those involving money?

Prostitution laws struck down

by Tracey Tyler

A Toronto judge has struck down Canada's prostitution laws, saying provisions meant to protect women and residential neighborhoods are endangering sex workers' lives.

If Justice Susan Himel's decision stands, prostitutes will be able to communicate freely with customers on the street, conduct business in their homes or brothels and hire bodyguards and accountants without exposing them to the risk of criminal sanctions.

The Superior Court judge suspended her ruling from taking effect for 30 days to give the government time to consider how to address potential consequences, including the emergence of unlicensed brothels.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the federal government is "very concerned" and is seriously considering an appeal of the 131-page ruling.

Alan Young, a lawyer at the forefront of the landmark legal challenge, said it is too early to say whether Tuesday's decision could open the door to Canada going "the way of Germany with five-storey brothels."

But to his client, Terri-Jean Bedford, a dominatrix who was convicted in 1998 of keeping a common bawdy house, it was "emancipation day."

"How am I going to celebrate? I'm going to spank some ass," Bedford, cracking a riding whip, told reporters.

Bedford and prostitutes Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch took on the legal might of the federal and provincial governments, their battle waged on a shoestring legal aid budget and the volunteer services of expert witnesses and lawyers.

Scott said the decision means sex workers no longer have to "worry about being raped, robbed or murdered."

Himel found Criminal Code prohibitions against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of the trade violated the women's Charter rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.

An amazing read.

Useless Eaters: the Stigmatization of Illness

by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

As a psychiatrist battling the stigma of mental illness for more than 30 years, I am gratified by growing public awareness that schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder run in families and are, at least partly, biologically determined. Thankfully the days when it was socially acceptable to blame depressives for being lazy or not doing enough to help themselves are long gone.

I wish I could say the same of physical illness which, after all, is basic to human existence. The US, unquestionably, has the most reactionary and punitive attitude towards illness in the world. It comes out in all manner of regressive and inhumane government policy: the federal government's absolute refusal to make sick and parental leave mandatory (as it is in all other industrialized societies), the pressure for long term recipients of Social Security disability benefits to undergo continual review and mandatory treatment (which most have no way of paying for, as doctors have stopped accepting Medicare and Medicaid), as well strong pressure on doctors to declare them well enough to work; and now a proposal to change eligibility for Social Security retirement to make the elderly "prove" they are too sick to work.

The Growing Attack on Entitlements

In the growing attack by Republicans and Democrats on entitlements, there are always assertions either direct or implied that sick people are somehow responsible for the problems that make them unable to work. However what troubles me even more is the way so many Americans have internalized these attitudes how ready they are blame people who get sick on eating the wrong food, not exercising or not managing stress properly. Epidemiological studies show clearly this is not the case lifestyle factors only account for 10 percent of what causes us to become ill.

There is no question that the US has parted company with the rest of the world on this. I think it's important to ask why. Quite frankly I hear a lot of discussion that is ominously reminiscent of Hitler's "useless eaters" initiative. And I think it's time to ask whether this is simply "coincidence" an accident of history or if there are more sinister reasons why this might be.

That joke was for you, man. I truly loved your very smart stuff. RIP.


Comedian Greg Giraldo dies after accidental overdose

44-year-old comic was hospitalized Monday after taking prescription meds

Hold the laughter.

greg-giraldo.jpgGreg Giraldo died today, four days after being hospitalized following an accidental overdose of prescription medication. He was 44.

The news was first reported by fellow comic and longtime friend Jim Norton, who tweeted a photo of the two and the message, "RIP Buddy."

That was followed by a message from The Improv comedy club: "R.I.P. Greg Giraldo ... - One of the funniest MFers every to grace a comedy stage! Will be missed by all. So sad."

And one from Sarah Silverman: "Belly-laugh hilarious, prolific, good & kind. A thousand oys can't express"

A judge on NBC's Last Comic Standing, as well as a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show and a fixture on the Comedy Central Roast circuit, Giraldo was actually a Columbia and Harvard Law School-educated attorney who strayed from his original path to school himself in the art of insult comedy.

And it worked for him.

"How cheesy is this dais? It's not a roast, it's a melt," he said during the recent David Hasselhoff roast.

Perfect ReBUTTal

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Women Confront Deficit Commission Over Social Security

By Dave Johnson

Last month Former Senator and Deficit Commission co-chair Alan Simpson said this about Social Security, and by extension about government itself,


"We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"


Nice. We work and pay into Social Security all our lives, we pay our taxes, but when it comes time to retire our leaders say we're nothing more than freeloaders sucking off the tits of the "milk cow."


The Deficit Commission is meeting today and the National Organization for Women showed up and delivered 1,500 nipples to Simpson's commission. They called it "1500 Tits for an Ass."


From NOW's press release,

"The Fiscal Commission should be led by someone who will actually try to address the federal budget deficit, instead of using it as an excuse to undermine Social Security by cutting benefits or raising the retirement age," O'Neill continues. "Alan Simpson is not that person."

Especially Women!

Social Security is especially important to women because women still are paid less than men and can't save as much for retirement, tend more than men to be in jobs without any pension (only 13 percent of women aged 65 or older currently receive a pension) and women are more likely to be on their own: single, widowed or divorced by retirement age. In fact 42 percent of women over age 62 relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, compared to 28 percent of men. Any cuts in the program would hit women particularly hard.

Here is video from the delivery:

Shutting Down Govenment for No Reason

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Demint is deranged.

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Some people are actually nuts over "the gay"

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Does this guy aside from his obvious anti-gay obcession seem to be in denial about his own sexuality?


Pew Poll: Atheists Know More About Religion

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I'm not at all surprised by this finding. Atheists after all tend to do more comparative thinking about religions which is why we come to the conclusions we do. It's akin to the fact that immigrants often know more about the history and political structure of a country than its natural born inhabitants because they consciously take the time to learn it. My experience is that most Americans claim to be religious but they are not particularly spiritual in the way they live life daily and most know almost nothing but the most superficial aspects of the history and tenets of their faith.

Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans

By Laurie Goodstein

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

atheistchart.jpgResearchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

"Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey," said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

That finding might surprise some, but not Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, an advocacy group for nonbelievers that was founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

"I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people," Mr. Silverman said. "Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists."


Test Yourself

This is an important judgment against the trend of police across the country attempting to make it a crime to video police in action.

Motorcyclist wins taping case against state police
A Harford County Circuit Court judge ruled this afternoon that a motorcyclist who was arrested for videotaping his traffic stop by a Maryland State Trooper was within his rights to record the confrontation.

Judge Emory A Pitt Jr. tossed all the charges filed against Anthony Graber, leaving only speeding and other traffic violations, and most likely sparing him a trial that had been scheduled for Oct. 12. The judge ruled that Maryland's wire tap law allows recording of both voice and sound in areas where privacy cannot be expected. He ruled that a police officer on a traffic stop has no expectation of privacy.

"Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public," the judge wrote. "When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation."


Exactly so!

In the words of Prof John Turley:

"My concern is the lack of condemnation for not only the officers who brought these abusive charges but the prosecutors who fought to punish citizens for videotaping the officers. While one congressman has taken the lead in condemning these cases, Maryland officials for the most part seemed perfectly happy to let this case establish a crime of filming police."


Changing How We Educate

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I agree with each principle offered here for altering the way we teach kids. Click on the pic for the video.

educfix.jpg

Bashing Back

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The first step in countering bullying is to actively expose who the bullies are and then to take a firm stand against them. Here's who the bullies are:

NOM.jpg

A New Kind Of Outing

A new Web site takes on the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions.

The National Organization for Marriage will come under close scrutiny today with the launch of a new Web site that will detail supporters and backers of the organization, whose goal is to fight against same-sex marriage. (NOM, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., was founded in 2007 "in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," as its Web site states.)

The new Web site, NOMexposed.com, is the creation of the the Human Rights Campaign and the Courage Campaign, one of the country's fastest growing, Web-activist organizations.

"We want to out NOM for what it is--a secretive player in antigay politics, which is posing as an offshore company for antigay religious money," says Michael Cole, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.

After months of poring through public documents including court and tax records, the Web site, viewed in advance by NEWSWEEK, details NOM supporters like the Mormon and Catholic churches, as well as Opus Dei. It also posts items about organizations and individuals that have publicly expressed antigay rhetoric and activity and their relationship to NOM. The site includes a graph to show the phenomenal growth NOM has enjoyed over the last three years, going from a budget of $500,000 to $10 million in three years.

The D.C.-based NOM, has been fighting hard to keep its donors and supporters private. This month it filed suit in New York and Rhode Island, its latest in a serious of legal challenges in various states to protect the identity of its donors and, according to NOM president Brian Brown, engage in independent expenditure activities and issue ads like many other nonprofits.

Human Powered Flight Finally Realized

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humanpoweredflight.jpg


Human-powered plane flies with flapping wings

A PhD student at the University of Toronto has become the first person ever to make a sustained flight in a human-powered 'wing-flapping' aircraft.

The feat is something that inventors and engineers have been attempting for centuries, dating back to Leonardo Da Vinci's famous 15th century designs for the imagined machine.

Then last month, engineering student Todd Reichart made the concept a reality -- if only for a few seconds.

On Aug. 2, he piloted the glider plane-like aircraft 145 metres in 19.3 seconds, for an average speed of 25.6 kilometres per hour. He pushed pedals with his legs to power the aircraft.

The vice-president (Canada) of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale was on hand to witness the world-record flight of "The Snowbird" at the Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, Ont.

The organization is expected to confirm the flight as a world record in October.

While the aircraft weighs only 42.6 kilograms its wingspan is 32 metres, similar to that of a Boeing 737. But the Snowbird weighs less than all of the pillows on board the jetliner.

Reichart said the feat represents "the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream" and "one of the last of the aviation firsts."

To get the Snowbird airborne, he lost eight kilograms over the summer. Now his efforts as pilot and chief aircraft's chief structural engineer appear to be paying off.

In a brief video posted online Sept. 21, the Snowbird is pulled forward through a grassy field by a vehicle off camera. The aircraft takes off as it gains speed, rising a few metres off the ground and flapping its long wings 16 times before landing farther down the field nearly a minute later.

While the Snowbird's flight is considered the first wing-flapping "ornithopter" to reach sustained flight, aviation enthusiasts have built and piloted human-powered airplanes for decades.

In 1979, aerodynamicist Paul MacCready successfully crossed the English Channel in an ultra-lightweight plane, which he powered by pedalling with his legs.

Jamming the Gaydar

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Rather than forcing gay soldiers out of the military, shouldn't we be using them for top secret missions? Stephen explains why in last night's Word.


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Lack of Skilled Workers is an Excuse

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Any employers who claim they can't find workers with the necessary skills should be given temporary grants to hire and train them. But Paul Krugman makes excellent points below about how overstated an excuse the claim of lacking skilled workers is, why it is being made and who is behind it.

Structure of Excuses

by Paul Krugman

What can be done about mass unemployment? All the wise heads agree: there are no quick or easy answers. There is work to be done, but workers aren't ready to do it -- they're in the wrong places, or they have the wrong skills. Our problems are "structural," and will take many years to solve.

But don't bother asking for evidence that justifies this bleak view. There isn't any. On the contrary, all the facts suggest that high unemployment in America is the result of inadequate demand -- full stop. Saying that there are no easy answers sounds wise, but it's actually foolish: our unemployment crisis could be cured very quickly if we had the intellectual clarity and political will to act.

In other words, structural unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.

Who are these wise heads I'm talking about? The most widely quoted figure is Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who has attracted a lot of attention by insisting that dealing with high unemployment isn't a Fed responsibility: "Firms have jobs, but can't find appropriate workers. The workers want to work, but can't find appropriate jobs," he asserts, concluding that "It is hard to see how the Fed can do much to cure this problem."

Now, the Minneapolis Fed is known for its conservative outlook, and claims that unemployment is mainly structural do tend to come from the right of the political spectrum. But some people on the other side of the aisle say similar things. For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an interviewer that unemployment remained high because "people don't have the job skills for the jobs that are open."

Well, I'd respectfully suggest that Mr. Clinton talk to researchers at the Roosevelt Institute and the Economic Policy Institute, both of which have recently released important reports completely debunking claims of a surge in structural unemployment.

After all, what should we be seeing if statements like those of Mr. Kocherlakota or Mr. Clinton were true? The answer is, there should be significant labor shortages somewhere in America -- major industries that are trying to expand but are having trouble hiring, major classes of workers who find their skills in great demand, major parts of the country with low unemployment even as the rest of the nation suffers.

None of these things exist. Job openings have plunged in every major sector, while the number of workers forced into part-time employment in almost all industries has soared. Unemployment has surged in every major occupational category. Only three states, with a combined population not much larger than that of Brooklyn, have unemployment rates below 5 percent.

Oh, and where are these firms that "can't find appropriate workers"? The National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small businesses for many years, asking them to name their most important problem; the percentage citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low, reflecting the reality that these days even highly skilled workers are desperate for employment.

Big Brother Goes to Heaven

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Why not just roll over and let every communication be monitored all the time? - that's basically what these proponents of a 1984 reality are asking for. They want US law enforcement to be turned into a global spy network immune to encryption and capable of listening into any communication anytime anywhere on the planet.

What is it about these fear ridden control freaks that eludes them about the purpose of limited government or the concept of privacy serving that purpose? Information is power and the proponents of this policy to turn US law enforcement into a global spy network, immune to encryption and capable of listening into any communication anytime, anywhere on the planet is nothing short of a grab for absolute power. And we all know where absolute power leads.

U.S. Is Working to Ease Wiretaps on the Internet

by Charlie Savage

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications -- including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype -- to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had "huge implications" and challenged "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution" -- including its decentralized design.

"They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet," he said. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function."

But law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.

"We're talking about lawfully authorized intercepts," said Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "We're not talking expanding authority. We're talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security."

Investigators have been concerned for years that changing communications technology could damage their ability to conduct surveillance. In recent months, officials from the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the White House and other agencies have been meeting to develop a proposed solution.

There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations.

But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices. In recent months, that company has come into conflict with the governments of Dubai and India over their inability to conduct surveillance of messages sent via its encrypted service.

Another sucessful attack on DADT

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This is an amazing reversal of decision by the same judge regarding the same individual after a two week reconsideration.

The curious part to me is why the Obama administration is planning to try to limit an earlier recent decision, as mentioned near the end of the video, rather than just letting it stand.

Pugnacious Parrot

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Man, Parrot Scuffle On Ann Arbor Street

Witnesses: Man Shook Parrot Until Feathers Came Out

parrot.jpgMich. -- A 49-year-old Jackson man has been arrested in Ann Arbor following a fight with the pet parrot he carried in his backpack.

Police said 911 calls started coming in around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday with witnesses reporting that a man on South Main Street was violently shaking the bird.

Officers who responded to the call said the bird's feathers were scattered everywhere, and that the bird was limping. However, police said, the bird did bite the man several times on his hands, drawing blood.

The man told police he had been trying to train the bird, and when it didn't listen, he shook it.

The man is being held in the Washtenaw County Jail pending charges.

The bird was given to an animal rescue organization.

Military Evangelizing

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This is so wrong it's crazy. How? Imagine the reaction if the concert was to promote Islam.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A watchdog group concerned with keeping apart religion and government is calling for the cancellation of an evangelical concert scheduled at Fort Bragg on Saturday.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the "Rock the Fort" event, put on by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, violates the Constitution and is targeting people for conversion.

"It's not the Army's job to convert Americans to Christianity," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This event is totally unacceptable and must be canceled."

The group sent a letter to Army officials on Thursday.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, established to support the ministries of Billy Graham and his son Franklin, would not comment on the event, which will feature Christian musicians and a separate children's program. A fact sheet published on the group's website says the event will be a "clear presentation of the Christian Gospel."

"Attendees will have an opportunity to respond to the Gospel Evangelistic message, be encouraged by Fort Bragg Chaplains and trained counselors from off post Churches and on post Chapels, and then be offered ongoing Biblical Spiritual Resiliency training at our military chapels and local churches," the information sheet said.

According to the association's web site, other "Rock the Fort" concerts were held at Fort Jackson, Kentucky, in June and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, last October. Graham's organization is planning to hold another event at Fort Jackson later this year.




IE9 a Beautiful Bust for XP/Vista

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Too bad because I thought it was a winner - clean, fast - but then I use win7. Head scratching ensues.

M$ has Killed IE9

It may be Microsoft's biggest blunder since the brown Zune. Only Microsoft can shoot itself in the foot in such a silly way and it leaves us scratching our heads: What exactly are they thinking? IE9 will not run on Windows XP, has problems on Vista and now we learn that it will only run on Windows 7 with SP1 installed.

You would think that Microsoft has no intentions to repeat the slow rollout of IE8, which is still below 35% market share, while IE6 and IE7 hold about 25% combined. The recent marketing frenzy made us believe that Microsoft has high goals and want to conquer the world with its IE9. But we have no idea how this can actually happen, if the vast majority of computers can't actually run IE9.

We have posted a lengthy piece about the potential hurdles that IE9 faces during its rollout. It may not really matter how good IE9 really is, if you can't install it. If you are among the huge number of Windows XP users, which still account for about 60% of all PCs running worldwide, you can't install IE9. Period. If you run Vista, you have to have SP2 installed as well as a few other "prerequisites" and the software may not install even if you have all bugfixes and upgrades for Vista installed. As if those limitations aren't enough, Microsoft now says that IE9 will require SP1 on Windows 7.

Rather than addressing the entire market or cutting out the oldest parts, it appears that Microsoft's legacy will be haunting IE9 for quite some time and prevent it from becoming a dominant browser. Right now, IE9's maximum market potential is 40% minus a few points for Vista problems, a share of IE6 users that are using an operating system other than XP, and those users who do not upgrade to Windows 7 SP1. 35% market potential is a good guess, which, however may improve as Windows XP and Windows Vista decrease in share. However, during the time of IE9 rollout, Microsoft is vulnerable to Chrome and Firefox, which may have their best opportunity yet to grab market share in markets that have been abandoned by Microsoft.

I get it. IE9 is the future for Microsoft and Microsoft is sick of talking about Windows XP and Windows Vista. Simply dropping those operating systems and telling users that they will have to get Windows 7 if they want IE9 may not be the best idea. IE9 is a huge step forward for Microsoft, but it's not great enough to convince all XP users to ditch their OS.

source:conceivablytech

Lobbyist Wrote Republican Pledge to America

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Surprise, surprise! If you download a copy of the Pledge to American .pdf file, open it and then right click on it and selectDocument Properties you will see it is authored by one Brian Wild. Who is Brian Wild?

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GOP 'Pledge To America' Director Lobbied For AIG, Exxon, Pfizer, Chamber

by Sam Stein

The Republican Party's 21-page blueprint, "Pledge to America," was put together with oversight by a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.

In a draft version of The Pledge that was being passed around to reporters before the official release, the document properties list "Wild, Brian" as the "Author." A GOP source said that Wild -- who is on House Minority Leader John Boehner's payroll -- did help author the governing platform that the party is unveiling on Thursday. Another aide said that as the executive director of the Republican leadership group American Speaking Out, Wild's tasks were more on the administrative side of the operations.

Until early this year, Wild was a fairly active lobbyist on behalf of the firm the Nickles Group, the lobbying shop set up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles. During his five years at the firm, Wild, among others, was paid $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse; $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum; more than $1.1 million from Comcast, more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil; and $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.

Not all of his work has been done in the world of influence peddling. From 2001 through 2004, Wild was the legislative director for then Representative Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) the current Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. From 2004 through 2005 he was a Deputy Assistant For Legislative Affairs to Vice President Dick Cheney. There also was a tenure on the staff of former Colorado Republican Senator Hank Brown.

But the career door has been revolving. And in between his time in Johnson and Toomey's office, Wild served as a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he helped steer more than $34 million worth of lobbying activity for the business interest group.

And we can't do windturbines why again?

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Whopper of a wind farm opens off Britain

World's largest offshore project has 100 turbines -- so far

windturbines.england.jpg +

The world's largest offshore wind farm had its grand opening Thursday -- and its location on the estuary of the Thames River makes it a showcase for Britain's push to move beyond fossil fuels.

So far, 100 wind turbines have been planted in waters up to 80 feet deep across the estuary in southern England. The idea is to produce enough electricity, 300 megawatts, to power the equivalent of 200,000 homes.

Each turbine is nearly as tall as a 40-story building and the blades are at least 65 feet above the water for clearance with vessels. No turbine is closer than 1,600 feet to another and the entire "farm" covers an area of 22 square miles.

Up to 341 turbines will be installed over the next four years.

With Thursday's opening, which tops a 91-turbine farm off Denmark, Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined.

"We are in a unique position to become a world leader in this industry," British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said in a statement before he attended the grand opening. "We are an island nation and I firmly believe we should be harnessing our wind, wave and tidal resources to the maximum."

Britain now gets three percent of its electricity from renewables but aims to get 15 percent by 2020. As part of that, the government this year awarded licenses to wind farm developers in a program that could deliver up to 32 gigawatts of generation capacity and require investment of more than $117 billion.

Montana GOP needs a little Willie Nelson

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Sometimes you just have to shake your head and laugh.


Montana GOP Reaffirms Position on Criminalizing Homosexuality

HELENA, Mont. -- At a time when gays have been gaining victories across the country, the Republican Party in Montana still wants to make homosexuality illegal.

The party adopted an official platform in June that keeps a long-held position in support of making homosexual acts illegal, a policy adopted after the Montana Supreme Court struck down such laws in 1997.

The fact that it's still the official party policy more than 12 years later, despite a tidal shift in public attitudes since then and the party's own pledge of support for individual freedoms, has exasperated some GOP members.

"I looked at that and said, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" state Sen. John Brueggeman, R-Polson, said last week. "Should it get taken out? Absolutely. Does anybody think we should be arresting homosexual people? If you take that stand, you really probably shouldn't be in the Republican Party."

Gay rights have been rapidly advancing nationwide since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy law in 2003's Lawrence v. Texas decision. Gay marriage is now allowed in five states and Washington, D.C., a federal court recently ruled the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional, and even a conservative tea party group in Montana ousted its president over an anti-gay exchange in Facebook.

But going against the grain is the Montana GOP statement, which falls under the "Crime" section of the GOP platform. It states: "We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal."

Montana GOP executive director Bowen Greenwood said that has been the position of the party since the state Supreme Court struck down state laws criminalizing homosexuality in 1997 in the case of Gryczan v. Montana.

Nobody has ever taken the initiative to change it and so it's remained in the party platform, Greenwood said. The matter has never even come up for discussion, he said.

"There had been at the time, and still is, a substantial portion of Republican legislators that believe it is more important for the Legislature to make the law instead of the Supreme Court," Greenwood said.


Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other)

The Small Business Tax Scam

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A 3 Part Exposé from Keith Olbermann's Countdown show

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


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


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

Gay Adoption Ban in FL Ends

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FL Appeals Court: Anti-Gay Adoption Law Violates Equal Protection

By a unanimous decision, an appeals court has upheld a Miami judge who ruled that Florida's anti-gay adoption ban is unconstitutional.

The Third District Court of Appeals three-judge panel agreed with Miami Judge Cindy Lederman who ruled in 2008 that there is "no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting" and that the law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents.


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The opinion reads in part:

"We affirm the judgment of adoption, which holds subsection 63.042(3), Florida Statutes, violates the equal protection provision found in article I, section 2, of the Florida Constitution."

"Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents," the opinion states.

"No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument. To the contrary, the parties agree 'that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.'"

You can read the full decision here.

This is an historic day but the fight is not over yet. The case may now head to the Florida Supreme Court and anti-gay extremists are expected to seek a ballot measure putting this discrimination into the state Constitution. Equality Florida will continue working with our team across the state to be ready to defend this victory.

What a phenomenal day for Martin Gill and his family who have challenged this ban head on. A big congratulations to the legal team at the ACLU of Florida who worked so hard on this case.

Thank you to all the Floridians who have helped to expose the bigotry of this ban.



Homophobes Win the Day

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Meh...It's their last hurrah so it completely figures that the old guard would resist the repeal of the DADT policy as they did in the senate today.

Move to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Stalls in Senate


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Land of the Free?

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From: US Rates of Incarceration:A Global Perspective (.pdf)


Some US states imprison six times as many people as do nations of comparable population.

incareration.jpg


The US rate of incarceration is the highest in the world.


The US incarcerates at a rate 4 to 7 times higher than other western nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany and up to 32 times higher than nations with the lowest rates such as Nepal, Nigeria, and India.

A major cause of such high numbers is the length of the prison sentences in the United States. One of the criticisms of the United States system is that it has much longer sentences than any other part of the world.


incarceration1920.2006.png

Even though other countries have more prisoners annually, the fact that the United States keeps their prisoners longer causes the total rate to become higher.

To give an example, the average burglary sentence in the United States is 16 months, compared to 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.

Looking at reasons for imprisonment will further clarify why the incarceration rate and length of sentences are so high. Some who prosecuted the War on Drugs now believe it caused a large increase in incarceration in the United States.

One of the biggest contributors to the United States' spike is the war on drugs. Around 1980, the United States had 40,000 people in prison for drug crimes Currently, the United States houses over 500,000 prisoners for these crimes. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance said, "We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of Western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses".

Bob of Calgary

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A Canadian responded to the Paul Krugman article The Angry Rich posted below and obviously struck a chord with his comparison between Canadian and American life. He managed to garner one the highest amount of comment recommendations I've ever seen. Having lived in Canada for over 30 years and missing it daily here in central Florida, I can attest to the veracity of his comments.

From the American reader reaction it is apparent that we are yearning to be equally free. I know I am. Canada has problems to be sure, but it's a helluva lot closer to a realization of the American dream than the US is right now.

21. Bob
Calgary, Canada
September 20th, 2010
10:20 am

My household makes just over $250,000 here in Canada. One of the best bargains I get for my money is living in a place where I and everyone I know sends their kids to public schools because they are really good. We end up with few criminals, because students learn how to be productive good citizens in schools.

A second bargin I get is universal health care. Great care (rated well above the American system in most measures) whenever you need it without worry about not being approved. It all comes at a bargain price of about 50% of the cost of the US health system.

A third bargain is the modernizing infrastructure. Cities in Canada are building new commuter train systems, rebuilding old overpasses and other roadways, building new schools, new recreation centres, etc. We are not quite like a new city in China, but we are not the decrepit cities of the USA where governments are shutting the lights out at night because they have no money. In Canada, we realize that we can't live off of the work of our grandfathers forever.

A forth bargin is the right of Canadian mothers (or fathers) to spend a decent period of time with their children when they are born. With one year maternity leave, we can ensure that parents and kids bond and families have some time to look after one another. I personally think it preserves a lot of marriages. (the pay is about 60% your full pay for the year so it is still a financial sacrifice).

Speaking of marriage, I am glad that my tax dollars don't go to perverse things like trying to stop gay people from getting married or raising children together - what a waste.

The next bargin is public universities - a place where my children and the children from all types of households can go to and graduate with a big debt, but not a devistating one.

Lastly (there are more, but I have to get back to my work), we get governance. This includes a banking system that is there to support the economy, not end run it to make a few $$.

With all of that said, I have to say that along with this, I enjoy one of the free-est countries on earth. Our business freedoms are as extensive as the USA. We are free to hunt and own guns (aside from assault weapons and who needs those anyways). IN fact, I have lived in the USA and I have to say, I can't see any freedoms there that we don't have here.

Oh yeah, and my total tax bill is about 2% higher than it would be in the USA. To me, its a bargain!

Recommended by 4942 Readers

mass-age mess-age

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high mass

yas, massa

mass production

mass hysteria

mass murder

masslessness


Go GaGa

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What a trooper!

Calling Robespierre

| | Comments (2)

Many of the wealthy have become vermin and traps need to be set.

"To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity." -- Maximilien Robespierre, 1794


The Angry Rich

By Paul Krugman

Anger is sweeping America. True, this white-hot rage is a minority phenomenon, not something that characterizes most of our fellow citizens. But the angry minority is angry indeed, consisting of people who feel that things to which they are entitled are being taken away. And they're out for revenge.

No, I'm not talking about the Tea Partiers. I'm talking about the rich.

These are terrible times for many people in this country. Poverty, especially acute poverty, has soared in the economic slump; millions of people have lost their homes. Young people can't find jobs; laid-off 50-somethings fear that they'll never work again.

Yet if you want to find real political rage -- the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason -- you won't find it among these suffering Americans. You'll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don't have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.

The rage of the rich has been building ever since Mr. Obama took office. At first, however, it was largely confined to Wall Street. Thus when New York magazine published an article titled "The Wail Of the 1%," it was talking about financial wheeler-dealers whose firms had been bailed out with taxpayer funds, but were furious at suggestions that the price of these bailouts should include temporary limits on bonuses. When the billionaire Stephen Schwarzman compared an Obama proposal to the Nazi invasion of Poland, the proposal in question would have closed a tax loophole that specifically benefits fund managers like him.

Now, however, as decision time looms for the fate of the Bush tax cuts -- will top tax rates go back to Clinton-era levels? -- the rage of the rich has broadened, and also in some ways changed its character.

For one thing, craziness has gone mainstream. It's one thing when a billionaire rants at a dinner event. It's another when Forbes magazine runs a cover story alleging that the president of the United States is deliberately trying to bring America down as part of his Kenyan, "anticolonialist" agenda, that "the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s." When it comes to defending the interests of the rich, it seems, the normal rules of civilized (and rational) discourse no longer apply.

Online Video is the New Gutenburg

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Human Exceptionalism and Animal Morality

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It has long been held that one of the features of assumed human superiority over animals is the human capacity for ethical or moral awareness. Historically, animals have not been considered to have the capacity for such an awareness or behaviors based on it. New observational studies however are challenging this idea and reducing human exceptionalism to a case of human hubris. Just as the Copernican solar centric model demolished the long held earth centric idea of the cosmos, so too is the human centric concept that we alone are capable of ethical choices being overturned by new evidence
presented by studies of "fair play" and other social behaviors in animal groups.

There is a strong resistance of course to sort of thinking since it presents just one more chink in the human right of dominion over other species rationale.

donkey-a-big.jpg


Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When ALL the slaves are free?






Moral in Tooth and Claw

By Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff

Animals are "in." This might well be called the decade of the animal. Research on animal behavior has never been more vibrant and more revealing of the amazing cognitive, emotional, and moral capacities of a broad range of animals. That is particularly true of research into social behavior--how groups of animals form, how and why individuals live harmoniously together, and the underlying emotional bases for social living. It's becoming clear that animals have both emotional and moral intelligences.

Philosophical and scientific convention, of course, has pulled toward a more conservative account of morality: Morality is a capacity unique to human beings. But the more we study the behavior of animals, the more we find that different groups of animals have their own moral codes. That raises both scientific and philosophic questions.

Researchers like Frans de Waal (The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society), Elliott Sober, David Sloan Wilson (Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior), and Kenneth M. Weiss and Anne V. Buchanan (The Mermaid's Tale: Four Billion Years of Cooperation in the Making of Living Things) have demonstrated that animals have social lives rich beyond our imagining, and that cooperation and caring have shaped the course of evolution every bit as much as competition and ruthlessness have. Individuals form intricate networks and have a large repertoire of behavior patterns that help them get along with one another and maintain close and generally peaceful relationships. Indeed, Robert W. Sussman, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, and his colleagues Paul A. Garber and Jim Cheverud reported in 2005 in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology that for many nonhuman primates, more than 90 percent of their social interactions are affiliative rather than competitive or divisive. Moreover, social animals live in groups structured by rules of engagement--there are "right" and "wrong" ways of behaving, depending on the situation.

While we all recognize rules of right and wrong behavior in our own human societies, we are not accustomed to looking for them among animals. But they're there, as are the "good" prosocial behaviors and emotions that underlie and help maintain those rules. Such behaviors include fairness, empathy, forgiveness, trust, altruism, social tolerance, integrity, and reciprocity--and they are not merely byproducts of conflict but rather extremely important in their own right.

If we associate such behaviors with morality in human beings, why not in animals? Morality, as we define it in our recent book Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, is a suite of interrelated, other-regarding behaviors that cultivate and regulate social interactions. Those patterns have evolved in many animals, perhaps even in birds.

One of the clearest places to see how specific social rules apply is in animal play. Play has been extensively studied in social canids (members of the dog family) like wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs, so it is a good example to use to examine the mechanisms of fair play.

An excellent new site to visit

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feddabonn.jpg







Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality

Flight from Death, is a seven-time Best Documentary award-winning film which uncovers death anxiety as a possible root cause of many of our behaviors on a psychological, spiritual, and cultural level.

The film's purpose is to investigate humankind's relationship with death, and is heavily influenced by the views of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker. In addition to interviews with a number of contemporary philosophers, psychiatrists and teachers such as Sam Keen, Robert J. Lifton, Irvin Yalom, Merlyn Mowrey and Daniel Liechty, the film introduces the viewer to a group of social psychologists, who conduct research in support of what they call Terror management theory (terror in this case not being terrorism, but rather emotional and psychological reaction to mortality awareness).

Over the last twenty-five years, proponents of terror management theory have conducted over 300 laboratory studies demonstrating that subtle reminders of death on a subconscious level motivates a statistically significant number of subjects to exhibit biased and xenophobic type behaviors, such as gravitating toward those who they perceive as culturally similar to themselves and holding higher negative feelings and judgments toward those they perceive as culturally dissimilar to themselves. - wiki

1:25:16

Get a Bubble Butt with Fix-A-Flat?

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Seriously? And crazy glue too?

Police arrest `fake' MD in buttocks injection case

By Jennifer Lebovich AND Fred Tasker


fixaflat.jpgState health investigators were not surprised when they heard about the Miami woman who was approached in a parking lot and offered injections to improve the appearance of her buttocks.

They cite similar cases going back a decade. In 2001, a Carol City woman died in an injection case that sent a South Carolina man to prison.

``This practice has never gone away,'' said an investigator for the Florida Department of Health, who spoke on condition that his name be withheld because of the nature of his duties. ``It continues in various forms.''

In some cases, the substance injected was neither silicone nor Botox, but industrial liquids including Super Glue and a tire-inflation aerosol product called ``Fix-a-Flat,'' the investigator said.

``It's extremely dangerous,'' he said.

Like Duh

hat tip to Jonathon Turley blog

A-Holes of the Day

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1) Why are people such freaking robots about policy? maybe they can't spell the word exception?
2) What meany ratted the kid out?

Mich. authorities reject boy's mini-pig plea

minipig.jpg

MIDLAND, Mich. -- Mid-Michigan authorities have decided that Roger the miniature pig can't live with a 9-year-old boy with severe pet allergies. The Midland City Council unanimously denied a request to allow the animal to live at a home that Ethan White shares with his parents, Jason and Lisa. Ethan says the pig is his "best friend in animal life."

Ethan is allergic to animals with long hair and fur. Local ordinances do not allow residents to own pigs.

Several residents spoke in support of the family during Monday night's meeting. Many council members acknowledged the family could properly care for the 4-pound animal, but expressed concerns about those seeking future permission.

Lisa told the Midland Daily News that council's vote is "encouraging people to skirt the law."

FL State Trooper Should Be Fired

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This guy shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a gun and should be fired outright. Since when is the alleged theft of two sandwiches worth shooting anyone over?

Trooper Suspended for Firing at Fleeing Suspect

PALM HARBOR | A Florida Highway Patrol trooper is being suspended for firing his gun nine times at a man suspected of stealing two sandwiches from a Tampa Bay-area gas station.

None of the bullets struck Magdi Kanaan in the shooting in Palm Harbor last October. Trooper Timothy Nichols began his one-week suspension without pay Friday after an internal investigation ruled that he used unnecessary force.

Nichols told officials that he thought Kanaan was trying to run him over when the suspect backed his SUV toward the trooper's car. But internal affairs investigators determined Kanaan was just trying to park.

Nichols' fired at the SUV as it drove away.

Criminal charges against Kanaan were eventually dropped.

So apparently the suspect the cop shot at didn't steal anything in the first place and the cop who unloaded 9 rounds at him receives a slap on the wrist. Total bullshit. He should be sued silly and fired..

Another example of the upside down priorities of policy in the US fueled by corporate bottom lines.

Big Alcohol Fueling Opposition to California Marijuana Initiative

Mason Tvert

According to a recently filed campaign finance report, the campaign to defeat a marijuana legalization initiative in California is receiving substantial funding from the alcohol industry. Now marijuana advocates are fighting back, calling on the opposition campaign to explain why it is working with Big Alcohol to keep marijuana illegal.

On September 7th, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors contributed $10,000 to the No on Prop. 19 campaign, which calls itself "Public Safety First." Proposition 19 would establish a legally regulated marijuana market in which marijuana is controlled and taxed in a fashion similar to alcohol.

It's clear why the alcohol industry is in this fight -- to protect its turf and keep Californians drinking. This is the same California Beer and Beverage Distributors gave $100,000 to oppose Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), which would have reduced marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. With marijuana being the second most popular recreational substance (despite its prohibition), the booze industry must recognize the threat legal marijuana poses to its bottom line. Thus, it has a vast financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal and steering Californians away from using it.

But why does the No on Prop. 19 campaign share Big Alcohol's goal of an alcohol-only society?

Why GM went bankrupt?

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hat tip mr baker:


Squelchingenuity250.gif +

Stop the Flakes and Carney Barkers

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How? Easy - Vote in the midterms.

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

Who should you be voting against? Idiots and frauds like the family values and newly minted Palin clone Delaware extremist Christine O'Donnel.

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

But mostly your vote will prevent goobers like the following from getting anywhere near the steering wheel.

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

How Touching

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Delaware Masturbators March Against O'Donnell

Largest Pro-wanking Demonstration in History

masurbators.jpgGalvanized by Republican senatorial nominee Christine O'Donnell's anti-masturbation stance, masturbators from across the state converged on Wilmington today in what some are calling the largest pro-wanking protest in American history.

Carrying signs reading, "O'Donnell: Hands Off Our Masturbation," the angry masturbators clogged downtown Wilmington, stopping traffic for blocks.

Harley Farger, a leading Delaware masturbator and planner of the Million Masturbators March, said it was difficult to organize masturbators "because they're used to acting alone."

Mr. Farger, the executive director of the pro-monkey-spanking group MasturNation, said that the "wank and file" of his organization believe that masturbation is an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution.

"Our country was founded by rugged individualists," he said. "And you know what individualists like to do."

He said that Ms. O'Donnell's anti-whacking position was "ill-timed," adding, "In this economy, masturbation is one of the few simple pleasures people still can afford."

Tracy Klugian, a homemaker and masturbator from Dover, Delaware, said she is "puzzled" by what she sees as the contradictory nature of candidate O'Donnell's position: "If you're against masturbation, why would you want to serve in Congress?"

A spokesman for the Wilmington Police Department, Crandall Darlington, said that the Million Masturbators March could cost the city tens of thousands of dollars, "especially when you include the cost of cleaning up afterwards."

Team Rational to Clash with Team Fear in DC

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restore.sanity.jpg"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?

Seriously, who?

Because we're looking for those people. We're looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it's appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we'd like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 -- a date of no significance whatsoever -- at the Daily Show's "Rally to Restore Sanity." Ours is a rally for the people who've been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) -- not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence... we couldn't. That's sort of the point.

Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we'll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don't. If you'd rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice... Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We'll make it worth your while.


fear.alive.jpgAmerica, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear -- that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear -- forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget -- "Reason" is just one letter away from "Treason." Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can't afford to take that chance.

So join The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on October 30th for the "March to Keep Fear Alive"™ in Washington DC. Pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear -- you're going to need them. Because, to Restore Truthiness we must always... Shh!!! What's that sound?! I think there's someone behind you! Run!



click posters for respective video clips

Beck Calls for Tea Partiers to Dress Down

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What's scarier...the whackos at tea party events dressed up in their statue of liberty or colonial outfits and waving their "Obama is a Socialist" signs or a whole crowd of whackos dressed for the cameras like door to door Mormans or Jehova Witnesses pretending to not be whack and wanting your vote?

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

Too Bad Prince Poppycock Didn't Win

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Though actually he did in some ways. In my mind, he's beyond a mere Prince...he's King of Kamp. He out-Freddies Mercury.

Why Prince Poppycock is Important for America

By: Lisa Derrick, firedoglake.com

For the past three months America's Got Talent showcased Prince Poppycock, the bewigged Baroque dandy who sings superlative opera in outrageous outfits. He is witty, elegant, polished, formerly a glittering secret sensation for nightclub habitués.

On AGT Prince Poppycock, sans costumes known as John Quale, presented more than an opportunity for America to regularly hear "cock" said on the teevee. Though I did rather enjoy that. And as far as exposing America to opera, heck Bugs Bunny was shaving the notes out of the Barber of Seville decades ago. No what Poppycock did was far deeper, he exposed the America's psyche.

Prince Poppycock is important for America because he makes a statement just by being himself and performing in full outrageous historical drag. On September 7 Poppycock showcased a message, singing a medley of "The Star Bangled Banner," "Yankey Doodle Boy" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" while images of American civil liberty heroes Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks and Harvey Milk screened behind him. America loved it, and voted yet again to keep him in the competition and into the finals.

That Prince Poppycock could get on a network show and last to the final round shows that underground Bohemian/queer cabaret culture is spiking through the mainstream beige, and growing more acceptable. Some may say that when the controversial becomes mainstream, the end is nigh, the snake is swallowing its tail, and/or The Man has co-opted cool, like punk rock being in malls via Hot Topic. Whatever, it's better than pantyhose mentality.

And that Prince Poppycock lasted as long as he did shows that there is a huge segment of America that will vote for an (out gay) man in towering wigs, satin pantaloons and high heels singing everything from Verdi to Queen. Maybe we aren't a nation of squares after all.

Now if only we can get that same segment motivate to vote on November 2nd.

I was excited and hopeful that maybe, just maybe Poppycock would score more votes than the talented, handsome but bland blond male blues singer, the 10-year old girl singer or the really-who-cares, seeming-to-defy-gravity performance troupe who appear to float mid-air and had Lionel Richie appear with them singing (predictably) "Dancing on the Ceiling."

Prince Poppycock is important because he shows that America is willing to embrace a flamboyant eccentric. But only up to a point. The 18th-century garbed Poppycock lost in the final round. Michael Grimm, the apparently,most likely straight (reading) male blues singer raised by his grandparents who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina won the competition, which makes more sense than the little girl runner up, because the prize is a Vegas show, and somehow a 10-year performing nightly in Vegas strikes a wrong note.

What it really comes down to

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...is that Summer and Geithner and the rest of the big wig financiers simply didn't know what the hell they were doing and still don't and that is why they should be fired and replaced. They and their wall street cronies should be jailed and have their fortunes clawed back, if not strung up in the streets, but of course that won't happen. The "little people" will blame the black guy instead and continue to vote their own class out of existence, entranced by the Fox News carney barkers.

After Summers Comes the Fall

By Robert Scheer

When will the president give Lawrence Summers his pink slip? He can thank him for his years of service and use the excuse that his top economic adviser wants to spend more time with his family. I don't care how he sugarcoats it. But Summers deserves the same fate as the millions of workers laid off because of the banking debacle he helped cause, the dire consequences of which he has done precious little to mitigate.

It was Summers who, as treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which opened the floodgates to the toxic mortgage-backed derivatives that still haunt the economy. The Federal Reserve now holds $2 trillion in junk securities it took off the books of banks. But the financiers who packed those devilish derivatives still hold a huge amount, and the houses they unload every time the housing market shows faint signs of stabilizing keep the economy in the doldrums.

The bane of our economic security now and well into the future is those collections of mortgages--the nest eggs and castles of 14 million families--now underwater or already foreclosed. Newfangled derivatives that were exempted from any regulation, and removed from the purview of any regulatory agency, by the law that Summers got President Bill Clinton to sign off on. Summers claimed that the suggestion of the prescient Brooksley Born, who headed the futures regulatory agency, to rein in those scams would have killed the golden goose of a derivatives market which, thanks to Summers, was allowed to run wild. He offered the following reasoning in congressional testimony supporting a ban on derivatives regulation:

"First, the parties to these kinds of contracts are largely sophisticated financial institutions that would appear to be eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud and counterparty insolvencies. ... Second, given the nature of the underlying assets involved--namely supplies of financial exchange and other financial instruments--there would seem to be little scope for market manipulation. ..."

Tell that to the victims of the AIG crash, including us taxpayers, who funneled $180 billion in the government bailout of that sophisticated financial institution to equally sharp counterparties like Goldman Sachs, which got a cool $12 billion from the deal. Ask Summer's protégé and now Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner why he bailed out those market manipulators when he was head of the New York Fed working with the Bush administration.


Is Resistance Futile?

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....Where the wealth's displayed
Thieves and sycophants parade
And where it's made
the slaves will be taken
Some are treated well
In these games of buy and sell
And some like poor beasts
Are burdened down to breaking

Dog Eat Dog
It's dog eat dog ain't it Flim Flam man
Dog eat dog you can lie cheat skim scam
Beat' em any way you can
Dog eat Dog
You'll do well in this land of
Snakebite evangelists and racketeers
You could get to be
a big wig financier

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away
... j mitchell - (Dog Eat Dog)

"The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism," Nader said. "They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people can confuse personal freedom with civic freedom--the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want, work where you want, sleep when you want, play when you want. If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius. But one of its Achilles' heels is that the price of the corporate state is a deteriorating political economy. They can't stop their greed from getting the next morsel. The question is, at what point are enough people going to have a breaking point in terms of their own economic plight? At what point will they say enough is enough?



Do Not Pity the Democrats

by Chris Hedges

There are no longer any major institutions in American society, including the press, the educational system, the financial sector, labor unions, the arts, religious institutions and our dysfunctional political parties, which can be considered democratic. The intent, design and function of these institutions, controlled by corporate money, are to bolster the hierarchical and anti-democratic power of the corporate state. These institutions, often mouthing liberal values, abet and perpetuate mounting inequality. They operate increasingly in secrecy. They ignore suffering or sacrifice human lives for profit. They control and manipulate all levers of power and mass communication. They have muzzled the voices and concerns of citizens. They use entertainment, celebrity gossip and emotionally laden public-relations lies to seduce us into believing in a Disneyworld fantasy of democracy.

The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party, which may make huge inroads in the coming elections, but the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism.

Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name. It is no longer a viable mechanism for change. And the longer we play our scripted and absurd role in this charade the worse it will get. Do not pity Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They will get what they deserve. They sold the citizens out for cash and power. They lied. They manipulated and deceived the public, from the bailouts to the abandonment of universal health care, to serve corporate interests. They refused to halt the wanton corporate destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends. They betrayed the most basic ideals of democracy. And they, as much as the Republicans, are the problem.

All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become.

America's Got Talent?

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Sure...and here's one of the weirdest forms of it.
I don't watch the show because its usually just processed cheese...this was a tiny bit edgier but most of all...fun clip i happened upon.

YouTube Instant

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Try this:

youtubeinstant.jpg

Why we need an economic revolution

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Part 1

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


Part 2

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

Dowd Calls Out Gingrich

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Maureen Dowd offers up an excellent and terse examination of Newt Ginrich's latest assault on Obama as a genetically predisposed anti-colonial Kenyan re-incarnation of Obama's father and master con man.

Who's the Con Man?

by Maureen Dowd

Harry Reid tweets Lady Gaga while Newt Gingrich is truly gaga.

The 67-year-old former speaker, who has a talent for overreaching, is more unbridled than ever. He's decided he'll do or say anything to stay in the game -- even Palin-izing himself by making outrageous, unsubstantiated comments to appeal to the wing nuts among us.

The conservative who fancies himself a historian and visionary did not use his critical faculties to resist his party's lunacy but instead has embraced it, shamelessly. He has given a full-throated endorsement to a dangerously irresponsible and un-Christian theory by Ann Coulter-in-pants Dinesh D'Souza.

Gingrich praised D'Souza's article in Forbes, previewing an upcoming book called "The Roots of Obama's Rage."

Newt told The National Review Online that it was the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama" and said D'Souza shows that the president "is so outside our comprehension" that you can only understand him "if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior."

Newt added: "This a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president."

So the smear artists are claiming not only that the president is a socialist but that he suffers from a socialism gene.

"Our president is trapped in his father's time machine," D'Souza writes in Forbes, offering a genetic theory of ideology. "Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son."

Playing into the bigotry of birthers and haters who paint Obama as "the other," D'Souza writes that the president was raised offshore, spending "his formative years -- the first 17 years of his life -- off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa." The ominous-sounding time in Pakistan was merely a visit when Obama was a college student.

Gingrich, who ditched two wives (the first when she was battling cancer; the second after an affair with the third -- a House staffer -- while he was impeaching Bill Clinton), now professes to be a good Catholic. Evidently the first two wives don't count because he hadn't converted to Catholicism. He even had a big Catholic conversion Mass here with his third wife, Callista, celebrated by a retinue of eight priests and three bishops.

But he is downright un-Christian when he does not hesitate to visit the alleged sins of the father upon the son.

Some of Newt's old conservative friends worry that he has gone "over the ledge," as one put it.

If it wasn't so sick it would be funny. It's worse than a conspiracy theory because this conspiracy consists of a single dead individual. The idea that there's something illegitimate about anticolonialism on the part of a Kenyan man in the 1940s, '50s and '60s is stupid. And it's inconsistent to accuse a president who's raining drones on bad guys in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen of having an inherited anticolonial ideology.

It's also really low. D'Souza and Gingrich are not merely discrediting the president's father's ideology. They're discrediting his character and insinuating that the son inherited not just his father's bad ideology but a bad character, too.

Newt has always displayed an impressive grandiosity. Who can forget the time during his Congressional heyday when he declared himself a "defender of civilization, a teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who form civilization ... and leader 'possibly' of the civilizing forces"?

And he who thinks Obama is too messianic said in 1994: "People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz. I see evil all around me every day."

This fear-mongering is ugly. D'Souza and Gingrich employ the tactics the Bush administration used to get us into Iraq -- cherry-picking, insinuation, half-truths and dishonest reasoning.

If the conservatives are so interested in psychoanalyzing father and son relationships, why didn't they do so back when W. was rushing to avenge and one-up his father by finishing what daddy started with Saddam?

On their Web site, Callista and Newt tout "Gingrich Productions" and promote an apocalyptic movie with the same kind of scary music that Fox uses, suggesting that the Obama administration is weak in the war against "radical Islam." The movie and the Web site are called "America at Risk."

It's Newt and D'Souza and their ilk who put America at risk.

Delaware's Gift to Democrats

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Nut case Christine ODonnel won Delaware's Republican primary beating out the long time incumbent Mike Castle.

Aside from the fact that O'Donnel's favorability rating among Delaware voters in general is only 29%, nearly half (44%) of defeated incumbent Republican Castle's polled backers said they would not support primary winner Christine O'Donnel in the Senate election come November, but would instead throw their votes to Democrat contender Chris Coons. A good thing for the Democratic party overall.

Mind you, anything is possible given the polarization and Tea Party hysteria evident across the country. Yet, there's a good likelihood that the Republicans are going to lose Delaware.

What happened the year you were born?

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Try this to find out

A Timeless Gift from Joni Mitchell

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Perfect artistry comes full circle to elevate us all.


Impeachment Trial for Federal Judge Porteous

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Jonathon Turley, a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School (and one of my favorite commentors on MSNBC's Olbermann and Maddow shows) is acting as head of a defense team for federal Judge Thomas Porteous. The trial is being broadcast daily on C-Span and is a really interesting case to watch if you want to see a great lawyer, as Turley obviously is, in action. Turley's website is an award winning blog found here.

turley.c.span.jpgThe Senate continues its impeachment trial of New Orleans federal Judge Thomas Porteous today in Washington, DC. He's being accused engaging in a kickback scheme with a Louisiana law firm, as well as several other instances spanning decades.

Yesterday, testimony centered on allegations that Porteous maintained an improper relationship with attorneys Robert Creely and Jacob Amato, who worked with him in Jefferson Parish. Both Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Porteous' attorney, Jonathan Turley, took turns asking Creely about the nature of the cash payments he made to the judge; which House prosecutors are asserting were bribes.

The trial is expected to last at least through the end of this week with the full Senate voting on the charges sometime later in the fall. This is the first Senate trial since the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton in 1999.

watch: Impeachment Hearing: NOW on C-SPAN3

watch: Hearing from Yesterday


Banished Piggie Goes A Squealin'

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Newt Gingrich always been 'out there' in a kind of sleazy, hypocritical, semi-educated carney-barker sort of way, but his latest tirade against Obama for being the re-incarnation Obama's father acting as a anti-colonial rebel who's aim it is to destroy the American Empire is not only childishly stupid, it's also quite whacked.

And where do these latest latest recent appearances and utterances of Gingrich lead to anyway. It's not like he has any chance at all of being elected to some office of any consequence. I guess he figures being a disinformation noise generator is better than a silent death of irrelevance.


Gingrich, unhinged on Obama

eugenerobinson.gifBy Eugene Robinson


Is Newt Gingrich just pretending to have lost his mind, or has he actually gone around the bend?

His lunacy certainly seems genuine enough. It's one thing to be a rhetorical bomb-thrower, as Gingrich has long fancied himself, and another to lob damp squibs of pure nonsense into the fray. The man's contributions to the public discourse have become increasingly unhinged.

The latest example comes in an interview with the conservative Web site National Review Online. Unsurprisingly, he was criticizing President Obama. Bizarrely, according to the Web site, he said the following: "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" According to Newt, this is "the most accurate, predictive model" for the president's actions, or policies or something.

What in the world is "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior" supposed to mean? That Obama is waging a secret campaign to free us from the yoke of British oppression?

In fairness to Gingrich, he wasn't being original. He was speaking in praise of a big gob of gibberish in Forbes by conservative "intellectual" Dinesh D'Souza. In the piece -- much of it strikingly lazy -- D'Souza argues that Obama somehow absorbed a fully elaborated, frozen-in-time, anti-colonial worldview from his Kenyan father. Who left the family when the future president was 2.

Well, we knew Obama was precocious. But if he was so absorbed with the study of colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism and all the other isms, when did he have time to learn to go potty?

Weird and Beautiful Atomic Bomb Photography

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The Bomb Chroniclers

They risked their lives to capture on film hundreds of blinding flashes, rising fireballs and mushroom clouds.

The blast from one detonation hurled a man and his camera into a ditch. When he got up, a second wave knocked him down again.

Then there was radiation.

While many of the scientists who made atom bombs during the cold war became famous, the men who filmed what happened when those bombs were detonated made up a secret corps.

Their existence and the nature of their work has emerged from the shadows only since the federal government began a concerted effort to declassify their films about a dozen years ago. In all, the atomic moviemakers fashioned 6,500 secret films, according to federal officials.

Today, the result is a surge in fiery images on television and movie screens, as well as growing public knowledge about the atomic filmmakers.

nuke.lg.jpg nuke02.lg.jpg +

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More pix

Rogue Gene Spreads Drug Resistance

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Great.

I knew I shouldn't have watched I Am Legend last night. Mother nature will cull the human herd one way or another.


New drug-resistant superbugs found in 3 states

Gene can spread person-to-person; all patients had been treated in India

By Marilynn Marchyione

germ.jpgAn infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: A new gene that can turn many types of bacteria into superbugs resistant to nearly all antibiotics has sickened people in three states and is popping up all over the world, health officials reported Monday.

The U.S. cases and two others in Canada all involve people who had recently received medical care in India, where the problem is widespread. A British medical journal revealed the risk last month in an article describing dozens of cases in Britain in people who had gone to India for medical procedures.

How many deaths the gene may have caused is unknown; there is no central tracking of such cases. So far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections.
Scientists have long feared this -- a very adaptable gene that hitches onto many types of common germs and confers broad drug resistance.

"It's a great concern," because drug resistance has been rising and few new antibiotics are in development, said Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia. "It's just a matter of time" until the gene spreads more widely person-to-person, he said.

Grayson heads an American Society for Microbiology conference in Boston, which was buzzing with reports of the gene, called NDM-1 and named for New Delhi.

The U.S. cases occurred this year in people from California, Massachusetts and Illinois, said Brandi Limbago, a lab chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three types of bacteria were involved, and three different mechanisms let the gene become part of them.

Effin' Eh

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Teaching Rahm Emanuel a F**cking Economics Lesson


Moore responds to Obama's chief of staff, quoted as saying he didn't care that tens of thousands of jobs would be lost if GM and Chrysler collapsed.

Dear Rahm Emanuel,

I read this week that -- according to a new book by Steven Rattner, your administration's former "Car Czar" -- during White House meetings about how to save the tens of thousands of jobs that would be lost if GM and Chrysler collapsed, your response was, "Fuck the UAW!"

Now, I can't believe you actually said that. Maybe Rattner got confused because you drop a lot of F-bombs, or maybe your assistant was trying to order lunch and you said (to Rattner) "Fuck you" and then to your assistant "A&W, no fries."

Or maybe you did mean Fuck the UAW. If so, let me give you a little fucking lesson (a lesson I happen to know because my fucking uncle was in the sit-down strike that founded the fucking UAW).

Before there were unions, there was no middle class. Working people didn't get to send their kids to college, few were able to own their own fucking home, nobody could take a fucking day off for a funeral or a sick day or they might lose their fucking job.

Then working people organized themselves into unions. The bosses and the companies fucking hated that. In fact, they were often overheard to say, "Fuck the UAW!!!" That's because the UAW had beaten one of the world's biggest industrial corporations when they won their battle on February 11, 1937, 44 days after they'd taken over the GM factories in Flint. Inspired by their victory, workers struck almost every other fucking industry, and union after union was born. Had World War II not begun and had FDR not died, there would have been an economic revolution that would have given everyone -- everyone -- a fucking decent life.

Nonetheless labor unions did create a middle class for the majority (even companies that didn't have unions were forced to pay at or near union wages in order to attract a workforce) and that middle class built a great country and a good life. You see, Rahm, when people earn a fucking good wage, they spend it on stuff, which then creates more good paying jobs, and then the middle class grows fucking big. Did you know that back when I was a kid if you had a parent making a union wage, only one parent had to work?! And they were home by 3 or 4pm, 5:30 at the latest! We had dinner together! Dad had four weeks paid vacation. We all had free health and dental care. And anyone with decent grades went to college and it didn't fucking bankrupt them. (And if you ever used the F-word, the nuns would straighten you out in ways that even you couldn't bear to hear about).

Then a Republican fired all the air traffic controllers, a Democrat gave us NAFTA and millions of jobs were moved overseas (hey, didn't you work in that White House, too? "Fuck the UAW, baby!"). Unions got scared and beaten down, a frat boy became president and, like a drunk out of control, spent all our fucking money and our children's money, too. Fuck.

And now your assistant's grandma has to work at fucking McDonald's. Ask her for pictures of what the middle class life used to look like. It was effing cool! I'll bet grandma doesn't say "Fuck the UAW!

Sincerely,

Michael Moore

We Can't Handle the Truth

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Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making."

"Wilkerson at 10:46 of the interview says " If I thought that they had deliberately done that, with malice of forethought, I am not sure I'd still be living in this country". It seems to me that it is just to hard for people to acknowledge that it's own can be just as criminal & evil as those in other parts of the world. Therefore, we must turn a blind eye to what may be the truth, lest it shatter our world." - drichards


Source: realnews.jpg

Assimov Rolls in His Grave

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We never learn do we? What's next - experimentally arming a Roomba with lethal lasers
so it can zap bugs as it cleans? "Don't put the baby on the floor, the Roomba is working."

3 Laws of Robotics:


isaac-asimov.jpg 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.



The real 2001: Scientists teach robots how to trick humans

By Niall Firth

hal.eye.jpgIt sounds like something straight out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But, in a chilling echo of the computer Hal from the iconic film, scientists have developed robots that are able to deceive humans and even hide from their enemies.

An experiment by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception.

The team developed computer algorithms that would let a robot 'decide' whether it should deceive a human or another robot and gave it strategies to give it the best chance of not being found out.

The development may alarm those who are concerned that robots who are able to practice deception are not safe to work with humans.

But researchers say that robots that are capable of deception will be valuable in the future, particularly when used in the military.

Robots on the battlefield with the power of deception will be able to successfully hide and mislead the enemy to keep themselves and valuable information safe.

'Most social robots will probably rarely use deception, but it's still an important tool in the robot's interactive arsenal because robots that recognise the need for deception have advantages in terms of outcome compared to robots that do not recognise the need for deception,' said the study's co-author, Alan Wagner, a research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

A search and rescue robot may need to deceive a human in order to calm or receive cooperation from a panicking victim.

Obama and the Mid-terms in a Nutshell

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excerpt from Frank Rich's NY Times article

Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back

....As many have noted, the obvious political model for Obama this year is Franklin Roosevelt, who at his legendary 1936 Madison Square Garden rally declared that he welcomed the "hatred" of his enemies in the realms of "business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering." As the historian David Kennedy writes in his definitive book on the period, "Freedom from Fear," Roosevelt "had little to lose by alienating the right," including those in the corporate elite, with such invective; they already detested him as vehemently as the Business Roundtable crowd does Obama.

Though F.D.R. was predictably accused of "class warfare," his antibusiness "radicalism," was, in Kennedy's words, "a carefully staged political performance, an attack not on the capitalist system itself but on a few high-profile capitalists." Roosevelt was trying to co-opt the populist rage of his economically despondent era, some of it uncannily Tea Party-esque in its hysteria, before it threatened that system, let alone his presidency. Only the crazy right confused F.D.R. with communists for taking on capitalism's greediest players, and since our crazy right has portrayed Obama as a communist, socialist and Nazi for months, he's already paid that political price without gaining any of the benefits of bringing on this fight in earnest.

F.D.R. presided over a landslide in 1936. The best the Democrats can hope for in 2010 is smaller-than-expected losses. To achieve even that, Obama will have to give an F.D.R.-size performance -- which he can do credibly and forcibly only if he really means it. So far, his administration's seeming coziness with some of the same powerful interests now vilifying him has left middle-class voters, including Democrats suffering that enthusiasm gap, confused as to which side he is on. If ever there was a time for him to clear up the ambiguity, this is it.

Men Off the Leash

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hedge.jpg

lawnbottle.jpg

carwindow.jpg

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cattlecar.jpg

hat tip mr baker

A Tale of Two Stupidities

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1 - That the 17 yr old misrepresented his age and then blabbed

2 - That Florida law makes it such that a person can be charged with a 2nd degree felony (max 15 yrs) for having consensual sex with a minor even if he or she does not know the partner is underage.

Why does not knowing the person is underage because they misrepresented themselves not matter? What happened to the concept of intent?

Mulberry Mayor Is Accused of Sex With 17-Year-Old Boy

By Jason Geary

BARTOW, FL | Mulberry's mayor was arrested Friday afternoon on charges of having sex with a 17-year-old boy.

Gov. Charlie Crist then issued an executive order suspending John Julian Mullis from his public office.

Mullis, 33, faces one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. The second-degree felony carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.

An arrest report states the boy disclosed to a former teacher that he had a "consensual sexual relationship" with Mullis. The teacher contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Mullis was booked into jail with his bail set at $5,000, records show.

The report describes Mullis meeting the boy one evening several months ago at a Lakeland bar called "Pulse."

In an Aug. 30 recorded statement, the boy described the establishment as a "socializing bar with an occasional drag show."

The boy told deputies Mullis never asked about his age, but the boy said he believed Mullis thought he was 21 years old.

Under Florida law, a person can be charged with having unlawful sex with a minor even if he or she does not know the minor is underage.

The boy told deputies that he and Mullis had sex in Mullis' home at the end of the evening, the report states.

The boy said this was the only time he had sex with Mullis.

Investigators searched the boy's cell phone and found one photograph of Mullis' face. There were no nude photographs of Mullis on the cell phone.

Carrie Eleazer, a sheriff's spokeswoman, said it is unknown where and when the photograph of Mullis was taken.

Deputies interviewed Mullis on Aug. 31, and he admitted to having sex with the boy in June, the report states.

Mullis said the boy listed his age as 19 on a social networking site called "Adam 4 Adam," and that the boy was drinking an alcoholic beverage at Pulse, the report states.

Drug Testing

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Amazingly I got two wrong : #8 & 12.


Pop Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Drugs and the Drug War?

Here is your chance to test your knowledge and find out how much you know about drugs and drug policy.

By Tony Newman and Yolande Cadore

Drug use, addiction and the war on drugs touches everyone.

Most people's drug use starts before they leave the house (coffee) and many end the day with a drug (alcohol). While most people have beneficial relationships with drugs, we all know someone who has misused or developed an addiction to certain drugs. And we all know someone who has been harmed by the drug war.

The war on drugs is in the news every day: whether it's violence in Mexico, Californians voting on marijuana legalization, or some famous person getting caught with marijuana or cocaine.

Here is your chance to test your knowledge and find out how much you know about drugs and drug policy!

1) Which Country Locks Up the Most People for Drug Law Violations (In Total and Per Capita)?

A) Russia
B) China
C) Mexico
D) United States
E) Iran


2) True or False: The U.S. Congress Passed a Resolution in 1988 Calling for a Drug Free America by 1995?

3) Which Country Decriminalized Drugs in 2002 and has since seen declines in crime, death and disease?

A) Portugal
B) Netherlands
C) Germany
D) England

4) Which Former Presidents Used Illegal Drugs?

A) President Obama
B) President Bush II
C) President Clinton
D) All of the Above

5) Which Type of Conviction Will Lead to a Loss of Financial Aid for College Students?

A) Rape
B) Murder
C) Marijuana Possession
D) None of the Above

6) Which Media Outlet Has Called for Drug Legalization?

A) The New York Times
B) The Nation Magazine
C) The Economist
D) None of the Above

7) Which Drug Does our Government List as a Schedule I Drug, Meaning No Medical Benefit and High Potential for Abuse?

A) Marijuana
B) Cocaine
C) Oxycontin
D) Tobacco

8) According to Government Data, Which Drug Will You Become Addicted to After the First Time You Try It?

A) Heroin
B) Cocaine
C) Cigarettes
D) Meth
E) None of the above

9) Blacks and Whites Use and Sell Drugs at Similar Rates, Yet Blacks go to Jail:

A) At the same rate as Whites
B) Double the rate of Whites
C) 13 Times the rates of Whites
D) 50 times the rates of Whites

10) Which Policies Have Been Proven to Reduce Overdose Deaths and HIV/AIDS Without Increasing Drug Use

A) Syringe Exchange Programs
B) Supervised Injection Facilities (Place Where People Can Inject Their Own Drugs With Doctors Present) C) Heroin Prescription (Doctors Prescribing Heroin to Those Who Can't Quit) D) All of the Above
E) None of the Above

11) Proponents of California's Prop. 19 Say the Initiative to Control and Tax Marijuana Would:

A) Make it Harder for Teenagers to Get Marijuana
B) Reduce the Violence in Mexico
C) Help the State's Budget Crisis
D) Reduce Racial Disparities in Our Criminal Justice System
E) All of the Above

12) Which High Profile Person is Not on the Drug Policy Alliance's Honorary Board?

A) Sting
B) Montel Williams
C) Russell Simmons
D) Arianna Huffington
E) Lady Gaga
F) Former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz

13) America's Longest War Was:

A) Civil War
B) Vietnam
C) Afghanistan
D) Drug War

14) We Need the Following Folks to End This Unwinnable War:

A) The Media
B) Civil Right Organizations
C) Students
D) Elected Officials
E) You
F) All of the Above

Answers: Use the continue reading link below

Fracking Natural Gas Should Go Public

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When are we ever going to get around to having the resources that fuel the entire economy owned by the public rather than by private interests? Is this resource not being removed from public lands and doesn't that make it a public resource to begin with? Couldn't the extraction of natural gas make for a huge public works program?

Fracking debate heats up in New York

By Steve Hargreaves

Hundreds of people are expected to pack an upstate New York auditorium Monday as the federal government enters the fray over a controversial technique for natural gas production.

The hearing is the public comment portion of an ongoing Environmental Protection Agency investigation into whether or not hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand into natural gas wells, cracking the shale rock and allowing the gas to flow out, is safe.

The issue

People in New York sit atop the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas deposits in the nation which extends beneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

But shale gas development is happening nationwide.

Thanks to higher prices and new technology, vast reserves of natural gas are now available. Over half the states have shale gas reserves. Large deposits are also found close to major cities like Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and New York City.

The size of this resource is massive, effectively doubling the nation's gas reserves, according to a recent study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Why Do Americans Take It Laying Down

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...while Europeans get up and demonstrate against the corporatist and financial raping of their economies by holding national strikes? Why are so many Americans anti-union and against worker rights? What is it in the American psyche that makes them vote against their own best interests?


Why Millions March in France, but Not in the US

by Rick Wolff

The basic issue is the same there and here. Capitalism generates another of its regular, periodic crises, only this one is really bad. It begins, as often happens, in the financial sector where credit invites the competition-driven speculation, the excess risk-taking, and the corruption that explodes first. But precisely because the non-financial rest of the economy is already on shaky feet -- resulting from the growing economic divides between the mass of workers and the corporate profiteers -- the financial breakdown is spread by the market to the entire economy.

The basic response is the same there and here. Governments serve their masters. This means borrowing trillions (from those masters with the money to lend) in order to bail out their other masters: the failed banks and other corporations who threaten to take whole national economies down with them. The government bailouts "work." That is, they temporarily help banks, insurance companies, desperate corporations, and investors to avoid total collapse. But the bailouts also cost governments massive new budget deficits paid for by massive additional debt obligations to their lenders.

The basic dilemma today is the same there and here. Lenders to governments threaten to stop lending or even to pull their loans unless governments guarantee that they will pay interest on all their new debts as well as repay them. The guarantee that lenders everywhere demand is the same: governments must set aside funds -- by either raising new taxes or cutting government payrolls and spending -- that will go to the lenders.

The next step is different there than here. In France and across Europe, the governments' response to their masters' demands is called "austerity": painful added costs and lost public jobs and services impacting chiefly the mass of working people. In contrast, in the US, Obama "opposes" austerity, especially in Europe, because he has hopes that an export boom might lead the US out of its economic crisis. Europe is the chief buyer of US exports, and austerity there would inevitably reduce their purchase of US output.

However, while Obama opposes austerity, the 50 states and virtually every city and town are busy actually imposing austerity on the US. This is because cities and states are losing tax revenue (because of unemployment and home foreclosures) and yet are forbidden by law to borrow for their operating budgets. Hence every state and local government is either raising taxes and fees or cutting payrolls and public services or taking all three steps. There it's "austerity"; here it's called "prudent fiscal management."

But the biggest difference between there and here is the people's reactions. On Tuesday, September 7, somewhere between 2 and 3 million French citizens stopped work for a general strike. Their target was one part of the French government's "austerity program" -- a proposal to raise the minimum age to receive a partial retirement pension from 60 to 62 years of age and for receiving a full pension from 65 to 67 years. General strikes have also occurred in Greece and are planned in Spain. All of Europe has agreed on a day of strikes and demonstrations against austerity continent-wide on September 29. These will be led by trade unions and actively supported by left political parties, community organizations, church groups, students, and still others.

The general idea motivating and inspiring Europeans to undertake these massive actions is quite simple. The economic crisis, they argue, was caused by capitalist corporations' investment decisions -- and especially those of financial corporations. It has already caused huge job losses, reduced outputs of goods and services, and immense new government debts. Now governments propose to offset those debts by imposing additional costs on the mass of people. This amounts to shifting the costly burden of the capitalists' crisis -- and their government-financed rescues -- onto the working people. This has gone too far; the people will not permit it.

Republicans: You So Funny

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Nurse!!!

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I attracted to A=?

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analexams.jpg

This Culture

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Honestly, do we deserve to live?

Google search:

justin beiber removes left testicle
About 611,000,000 results (0.42 seconds)

PAChuMAN

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The latest installment of artist Guillaume Reymond's "GAME OVER" series, this stop-motion animated video will blow you away with its creativity. Watch as 111 people play a game of classic arcade game Pac-Man using only themselves and a few colored T-shirts. Check out the artist's web site to see similar versions of Tetris, Space Invaders, and more. (Via The Daily What)

The Great American Stickup

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from truthdig :

We've heard about the robber barons on Wall Street who brought on our current economic crisis, but they couldn't have done it without the help of key political players like Bill Clinton, for one, as Robert Scheer tells Amy Goodman in this "Democracy Now!" interview about his new book, "The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street."

Bran Nue Dae a Gotta See

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Trailer

brannuedae.jpgBased on a popular Aboriginal stage musical, Bran Nue Dae is about a teenage Christian's struggle to stay morally pure in the Outback (and briefly in Perth) in the late '60s, when wild music and loose women abound. Rocky McKenzie plays the boy, a small-town bastard who loses his would-be girlfriend to the excitement of the local bars and subsequently gets banished by his mother to a Catholic school run by the dictatorial Geoffrey Rush. McKenzie soon crosses Rush as well and flees to the train yards, where he meets boozy hobo Ernie Dingo, who promises to get McKenzie back to his native Broome. The duo hook up with a pair of oversensitive hippies who offer to drive them home out of an inflated sense of guilt over the Australian government's mistreatment of the natives. Picaresque adventures ensue.

Director Rachel Perkins aims for broad comedy in the familiar Australian style--in the manner of Muriel's Wedding and Strictly Ballroom--but she often overshoots, and slapstick overwhelms the movie's satire of the infinite varieties of piety. Perkins isn't exactly a natural for musicals, either; the big numbers are choppily shot, with no real flow to the performances. But Bran Nue Dae's period details--the open-air movie theaters, the rigid private schools, the shanty pubs--are vivid enough to counteract most of the cartoonishness, and Dingo gives a delightfully full performance as an opportunistic drunk with a store of native mojo. Plus, Jimmy Chi's songs are catchy (and cheerfully vulgar at times), and the story progresses smoothly, especially once the hero hits the road. The movie builds goodwill doggedly, and then pays it all off with a farcical finale with a rousing message: We're all Aborigines! Who knew? - Noel Murray

Terry Gou: Fascist Slave Driver

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While you chat or surf on the web keep this bastard in mind:


terrygou.jpg


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'Bout Time The Prez Spoke Up on Koran Burning

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Obama: Quran-burning a 'bonanza for al-Qaida'

President Barack Obama said in an interview Thursday that the Quran-burning plan by a Florida pastor was a "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaida."

Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview broadcast Thursday, Obama warned that Rev. Terry Jones' plan would endanger U.S. troops and could lead to serious violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The president called it a "stunt" and exhorted Jones to "listen to those better angels" and call off the protest this weekend.

Much More of This

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Dems Should Be Pushing This

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A Huge Chunk Of The Old Stimulus Hasn't Even Hit The Economy Yet

Vincent Fernando, CFA


stimulus-sept-2010.jpg


Despite talk about how the U.S. economy will soon lose the support of economic stimulus, or that stimulus 'hasn't worked', U.S. fiscal stimulus for the economy is far from finished, and this doesn't even consider additional measures being debated.

This is because a large chunk of the 'old stimulus' hasn't even hit the economy yet.

As shown above using data from ProPublica, 35% of the government's $790 billion original fiscal stimulus program (started in early 2009) is still on the way. 'Tax cuts remaining' and 'stimulus money either unspent or in progress' total $278 billion dollars.

This $278 billion will likely be delivered by the end of 2010, and it's a huge sum for just four months. Thus the remainder of 2010 will continue to be supported by stimulus, and investors should take note. 2011 is when the economy will lose its training wheels, though an additional round of economic initiatives currently being debated could push the timeline back even further.

The Taxes to Cut: Payroll Taxes

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Interesting idea to consider:

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Again with the too little too late

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Zero cojones.

Obama Against a Compromise on Extension of Bush Tax Cuts

By Jackie Calmes

President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

Mr. Obama's opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the White House might be open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party's weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.

It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals -- and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs -- he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.

In a speech in Cleveland on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will also make a case for the package of roughly $180 billion in expanded business tax cuts and infrastructure spending disclosed by the White House in bits and pieces over the past few days. He would offset the cost by closing other tax breaks for multinational corporations, oil and gas companies and others.

While the speech will be centrist in its policy prescriptions other than the Bush tax cuts, Mr. Obama's language will be partisan as he seeks to sharpen the contrasts between Republicans' record and efforts by Democrats to create more jobs, aides said.

White House officials have strenuously avoided labeling the proposal a second stimulus plan, a phrase that has taken on negative political connotations since the original roughly $800 billion recovery plan and subsequent additions have failed to push unemployment down substantially.

But it would provide his party with an agenda for the home stretch of the midterm campaign -- though one with a small chance of being enacted quickly or helping the economy before Election Day if it were.

Silly Segregation Revisionism

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Yo, Gov. Barbour...s'up dog?

Will the dolt-dom never end? This is so dumb it's actually humorous.

Gov. Barbour's civil rights fairy tale


By Eugene Robinson

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who may seek the Republican nomination for president, is trying to sell the biggest load of revisionist nonsense about race, politics and the South that I've ever heard. Ever.

barbour.jpgHe has the gall to try to portray Southern Republicans as having been enlightened supporters of the civil rights movement all along. I can't decide whether this exercise in rewriting history should be described as cynical or sinister. Whichever it is, the record has to be set straight.

In a recent interview with Human Events, a conservative magazine and Web site, Barbour gave his version of how the South, once a Democratic stronghold, became a Republican bastion. The 62-year-old Barbour claimed that it was "my generation" that led the switch: "my generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to integrated college -- never thought twice about it." The "old Democrats" fought integration tooth and nail, Barbour said, but "by my time, people realized that was the past, it was indefensible, it wasn't gonna be that way anymore. And so the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican was a different generation from those who fought integration."

Not a word of this is true.

What the hell is this?

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Dozens of homes burn across Detroit


DETROIT (WXYZ) - Several homes are fully-engulfed in flames in several different locations in Detroit.

On Detroit's east side, multiple homes are on fire on Moenart near Mound and McNichols. At least twenty homes were fully-engulfed near Quinn and Van Dyke.

Multiple homes are on fire on Robinwood Street and Van Dyke, near the fires on Quinn and Van Dyke.

Another set of homes are on fire at 7 Mile and Livernois on Detroit's west side.

Firefighters were also battling an abandoned commercial building near Chene and Hendrie on Detroit's east side.

Police are investigating the fires. Windy weather has hampered efforts to put out the flames.

Burning the Koran

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Not just a totally un-American idea but an unbelievably stupid one by a Florida preacher who can only be described as a jerk of the lowest order. Does it surprise me that he and his 50 church members are in Florida. Nope. After living here for 5 years I've come to the conclusion that there is more religious and social stupidity in Florida than anywhere else I've been.

This guy is at least as whacked out as any of the Islamic zealots and is himself no more than a deluded terrorist. Not only that, but he's endangering Americans here and in Islamic countries in a very real way. Who raises these irresponsible whack jobs?

indonesia.protest.jpg

Pressure rises on pastor who wants to burn Qur'an

The government turned up the pressure Tuesday on the head of a small Florida church who plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, warning him that doing so could endanger U.S. troops and Americans everywhere.

But the Rev. Terry Jones insisted he would go ahead with his plans, despite criticism from the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, the White House and the State Department, as well as a host of religious leaders.

Jones, who is known for posting signs proclaiming that Islam is the devil's religion, says the Constitution gives him the right to publicly set fire to the book that Muslims consider the word of God.

Gen. David Petraeus warned Tuesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press that "images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan -- and around the world -- to inflame public opinion and incite violence." It was a rare example of a military commander taking a position on a domestic political matter.

Jones responded that he is also concerned but is "wondering, 'When do we stop?'" He refused to cancel the protest set for Saturday at his Dove World Outreach Center, a church that espouses an anti-Islam philosophy.

"How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?" Jones told the AP. "Instead of us backing down, maybe it's to time to stand up. Maybe it's time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior."

Still, Jones said he will pray about his decision.


You know what I pray for? That people like this pathetic excuse for a Christian disappear off the face of the earth.

Would Reagan Be Electable Today?

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"Facts are stubborn things." - Ronald Reagan


reagan.electable.jpg

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From the Say-What? Dept

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Jehovah's Witnesses Mad That Atheists
Won't Keep Their Views to Themselves

onthemarch.jpgYou can now download the latest issue of Awake, the Jehovah's Witness's strange little magazine. The theme of this issue is those marching militant atheists, so it's a little bit personal.

Unfortunately, I was only able to read as far as the second sentence before I was blinded by the irony.

A new group of atheists has arisen in society. Called the new atheists, they are not content to keep their views to themselves.

That's right. The door-knockin', rabidly proselytizing cult is rebuking atheists for not keeping their views to themselves.

I guess that's fair. Twice now I've watched in anticipation as the local JWs do their thing, working their way up the street, only to see them look at my house, check a piece of paper they carried with them, and turn around to leave. There was also a third time when a couple actually knocked on my door, started their little spiel, and I interrupted them to tell them I was an atheist, would they like to come in and talk about freedom from religion? And they ran away.

So it's true, I suppose, that they do have limits on the expression of their views.

Trail Blazer Jefferson Thomas Passes

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A rara avis to be sure.

Little Rock Nine member Jefferson Thomas dies

jeffersonthomas.jpgLITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Jefferson Thomas, who as a teenager was among nine black students to integrate a Little Rock high school in the nation's first major battle over school segregation, has died. He was 68.

Thomas died Sunday in Ohio of pancreatic cancer, according to a statement from Carlotta Walls LaNier, who also enrolled at Central High School in 1957 and is president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation.

The integration fight was a first real test of the federal government's resolve to enforce a 1954 Supreme Court order outlawing racial segregation in the nation's public schools. After Gov. Orval Faubus sent National Guard troops to block Thomas and eight other students from entering Central High, President Eisenhower ordered in the Army's 101st Airborne Division.

Soldiers stood in the school hallways and escorted each of the nine students as they went from classroom to classroom.

Each of the Little Rock Nine received Congressional Gold Medals shortly after the 40th anniversary of their enrollment. President Clinton presented the medals in 1999 to Thomas, LaNier, Melba Patillo Beals, Minnijean Trickey Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Terrence Roberts and Thelma Mothershed Wair.

In 2008, then President-elect Obama sent Thomas and other members of the Little Rock Nine special invitations to his inauguration as the nation's first black president. During his campaign, he had said the Little Rock Nine's courage in desegregating Central High helped make the opportunities in his life possible.

Thomas played a number of sports and was on the track team at Dunbar Junior High, but others had little to do with him once he entered Central, the state's largest high school.

Feeling Politically Impotent?

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So you should.
As I've been saying for years, the only solution to our predicament is some form of uprising. The plutocracy will not yield in any sensible manner. They just don't care.

Part 1

"When you have bankrupt liberalism you descend into moral nihilism"- Chris Hedges

Part 2

INVERTED TOTALITARIANISM





Reminds me of a conundrum

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I hope the previously shortest man in the world wasn't found dead with a 12" and a 24" piece of wood under his bed.

Colombian is world's shortest man at 27 inches

By Frank Bajak

shortestman.jpg BOGOTA, Colombia -- Edward Nino Hernandez is in many ways a typical 24-year-old Colombian male. He loves to dance reggaeton, dreams of owning a car -- preferably a Mercedes-- and wants to see the world.

Top on his list of people he would like to meet are Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

What sets Nino (pronounced NEE-nyoh) apart is his size.

He is slightly taller than a piece of carry-on luggage and weighs just 22 pounds (10 kilograms).

Nino has just been officially certified as the world's shortest living man by Guinness World Records, measuring 27 inches (70 centimeters).

"He hasn't grown since he was 2 years old," his mother, Noemi Hernandez, said of the oldest of her five living children.

The previous titleholder was He Pingping of China, who was 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) taller and died March 13. The Guinness people discovered Nino afterward.

Money is a verb, not a noun

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The main problem the deficit hawks have in common is that they treat money as a noun rather than as a verb. They think in terms of accrued piles of gold coins stashed somewhere or paper notes or electronically displayed numbers granting access to those coins as wealth, rather than the movement of goods and services produced by the interaction of humans.

Consider that if the top 2% control 90% of the wealth, who actually would get hurt and probably learn the most if we suddenly wiped the debt slates clean and started over?

While Krugman is correct again is his assessments in the article below, he is still arguing to apply bandages to fix a system that has mortal structural flaws.


1938 in 2010

By Paul Krugman

Here's the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president's policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.

The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the year is 1938. Within a few years, of course, the Great Depression was over. But it's both instructive and discouraging to look at the state of America circa 1938 -- instructive because the nature of the recovery that followed refutes the arguments dominating today's public debate, discouraging because it's hard to see anything like the miracle of the 1940s happening again.

Now, we weren't supposed to find ourselves replaying the late 1930s. President Obama's economists promised not to repeat the mistakes of 1937, when F.D.R. pulled back fiscal stimulus too soon. But by making his program too small and too short-lived, Mr. Obama did just that: the stimulus raised growth while it lasted, but it made only a small dent in unemployment -- and now it's fading out.

And just as some of us feared, the inadequacy of the administration's initial economic plan has landed it -- and the nation -- in a political trap. More stimulus is desperately needed, but in the public's eyes the failure of the initial program to deliver a convincing recovery has discredited government action to create jobs.

In short, welcome to 1938.

The story of 1937, of F.D.R.'s disastrous decision to heed those who said that it was time to slash the deficit, is well known. What's less well known is the extent to which the public drew the wrong conclusions from the recession that followed: far from calling for a resumption of New Deal programs, voters lost faith in fiscal expansion.

Consider Gallup polling from March 1938. Asked whether government spending should be increased to fight the slump, 63 percent of those polled said no. Asked whether it would be better to increase spending or to cut business taxes, only 15 percent favored spending; 63 percent favored tax cuts. And the 1938 election was a disaster for the Democrats, who lost 70 seats in the House and seven in the Senate.

Then came the war.

The true economic cost of the Iraq war

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Let's not even talk about the human and social losses.

The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond

By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes


Writing in these pages in early 2008, we put the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war at $3 trillion. This price tag dwarfed previous estimates, including the Bush administration's 2003 projections of a $50 billion to $60 billion war.

But today, as the United States ends combat in Iraq, it appears that our $3 trillion estimate (which accounted for both government expenses and the war's broader impact on the U.S. economy) was, if anything, too low. For example, the cost of diagnosing, treating and compensating disabled veterans has proved higher than we expected.

Moreover, two years on, it has become clear to us that our estimate did not capture what may have been the conflict's most sobering expenses: those in the category of "might have beens," or what economists call opportunity costs. For instance, many have wondered aloud whether, absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan. And this is not the only "what if" worth contemplating. We might also ask: If not for the war in Iraq, would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe?

The answer to all four of these questions is probably no. The central lesson of economics is that resources -- including both money and attention -- are scarce. What was devoted to one theater, Iraq, was not available elsewhere.

Afghanistan

The Iraq invasion diverted our attention from the Afghan war, now entering its 10th year. While "success" in Afghanistan might always have been elusive, we would probably have been able to assert more control over the Taliban, and suffered fewer casualties, if we had not been sidetracked. In 2003 -- the year we invaded Iraq -- the United States cut spending in Afghanistan to $14.7 billion (down from more than $20 billion in 2002), while we poured $53 billion into Iraq. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, we spent at least four times as much money in Iraq as in Afghanistan.

It is hard to believe that we would be embroiled in a bloody conflict in Afghanistan today if we had devoted the resources there that we instead deployed in Iraq. A troop surge in 2003 -- before the warlords and the Taliban reestablished control -- would have been much more effective than a surge in 2010.

Live the best life you can

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You will not be remembered if you die now

you will be buried and mourned by a few

and what more can you ask for?

the world will spiral from underneath you
and you are either too smart or too dumb
to find god

maybe you are angry
only because the way out is through love
and you are just horny and lonely

you have seen that before you lies a great stretch of road
and it is windswept
or blasted by the hot sun
or covered in snow
or concrete shrouded in darkness
or bright and clear
so that you have to squint

but no matter what
it feels utterly empty

but their are sons who have lost mothers
and mothers who have lost sons

so

you must live the best life that you can

Ø




ending words from Twelve




We're Living in a Kleptocracy

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def: a term applied to a government that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service

...and you're probably not willing to do a god-damned thing about it, right? Would you even know where to begin if you were? The first step is to unplug from the distractions like Facebook and the constant stream of mp3's and texting chats and take notice of what's going down around you ya know...educate yourself - yeah, that'll happen.

Fears of Socialism and Fascism Are a Distraction from the Naked Theft of Trillions


By William Astore - Tomdispatch.com

Kleptocracy -- now, there's a word I was taught to associate with corrupt and exploitative governments that steal ruthlessly and relentlessly from the people. It's a word, in fact, that's usually applied to flawed or failed governments in Africa, Latin America, or the nether regions of Asia. Such governments are typically led by autocratic strong men who shower themselves and their cronies with all the fruits of extracted wealth, whether stolen from the people or squeezed from their country's natural resources. It's not a word you're likely to see associated with a mature republic like the United States led by disinterested public servants and regulated by more-or-less transparent principles and processes.

In fact, when Americans today wish to critique or condemn their government, the typical epithets used are "socialism" or "fascism." When my conservative friends are upset, they send me emails with links to material about "ObamaCare" and the like. These generally warn of a future socialist takeover of the private realm by an intrusive, power-hungry government. When my progressive friends are upset, they send me emails with links pointing to an incipient fascist takeover of our public and private realms, led by that same intrusive, power-hungry government (and, I admit it, I'm hardly innocent when it comes to such "what if" scenarios).

What if, however, instead of looking at where our government might be headed, we took a closer look at where we are -- at the power-brokers who run or influence our government, at those who are profiting and prospering from it? These are, after all, the "winners" in our American world in terms of the power they wield and the wealth they acquire. And shouldn't we be looking as well at those Americans who are losing -- their jobs, their money, their homes, their healthcare, their access to a better way of life -- and asking why?

If we were to take an honest look at America's blasted landscape of "losers" and the far shinier, spiffier world of "winners," we'd have to admit that it wasn't signs of onrushing socialism or fascism that stood out, but of staggeringly self-aggrandizing greed and theft right in the here and now. We'd notice our public coffers being emptied to benefit major corporations and financial institutions working in close alliance with, and passing on remarkable sums of money to, the representatives of "the people." We'd see, in a word, kleptocracy on a scale to dazzle. We would suddenly see an almost magical disappearing act being performed, largely without comment, right before our eyes.

Something From Nothing

|

or why the in the future things are going to be unimaginably worse and they will never get better ever again.




Can You Handle the Truth?

|

Here's a test:

And Now for the Bad News

Chris Hedges on Moral Courage










Abe's Shared Narrow Bed

|

Forget Mehlman -- What About Lincoln?

New "paradigm" embraces scholarship on Honest Abe's homosexuality

by Doug Ireland

lincoln.speed.jpg

While the gay media has been awash in unwarranted hosannas over the recent coming-out declaration by former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman -- who has not apologized for running the most homophobic presidential campaign in US history -- the LGBT press has been ignoring an infinitely more significant development under way with vastly more important implications for the Republican Party: the increasing acceptance by historians that the loving heart of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator and the first GOP president, found its natural amorous passions overwhelmingly directed toward those of his own sex.

This shifting consensus about Lincoln's sexual orientation is certainly the most stunning and effective rebuke to the Republican Party's scapegoating of same-sex love for electoral purposes, which came to fever pitch during the 2004 race that Mehlman spearheaded for George W. Bush.

"We are getting closer to the day that a majority of younger, less homophobic historians will at long last accept the evidence of Lincoln's same-sex component," John Stauffer, chair of Harvard University's Department of American Civilization, told Gay City News, adding, " We're already seeing the beginnings of a trend that will amount to a major paradigm shift."

Stauffer is one of the nation's leading experts on the Civil War era, and in his latest -- and best-selling -- book, "Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln," he supports the thesis that Joshua Speed was, as he put it, "Lincoln's soulmate and the love of his life."

And in the latest issue of the scholarly journal Reviews of American History, Stauffer hammers home this point, writing, "In light of what we know about romantic friendship at the time, coupled with the facts surrounding Speed's and Lincoln's friendship, there is no reason to suppose they weren't physically intimate at some point during their four years of sleeping together in the same small bed, long after Lincoln could afford a bed of his own. To ignore this, as most scholars do, is to pretend that same-sex carnal relationships were abnormal. It thus presumes a dislike or fear about such relationships, reflecting a presentist and homophobic perspective."

In his groundbreaking 2005 book "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," the late C.W. Tripp meticulously assembled the considerable body of historical evidence for Lincoln's same-sex affinities, including his love affair with Speed. Tripp, who worked closely in the 1940s and 1950s with the groundbreaking sexologist Alfred Kinsey, was a clinical psychologist, university professor, and author of the 1975 bestseller "The Homosexual Matrix," which helped transcend outdated Freudian clichés and establish that a same-sex affectional and sexual orientation is a normal and natural occurrence.

The New Bonus Army Inductees

|

Tales from the new bread lines


In July of 1932, then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Douglas MacArthur led armor, cavalry and infantry against hungry Americans--veterans of the Great War--ending the Bonus Army march on Washington, D.C., at bayonet point. Today his doll-like, pigeon-shit-patinaed sculpture stands in his eponymous L.A. park, a showpiece of the city long fallen into a hangout for the down-and-out, where at dawn each day the general again faces ranks of hungry Americans.

Waking Up in the 1930s

By Howie Stier

In the year 2010, America once again embraced the bread line. That distant, faded, iconic black-and-white image of the Great Depression has re-emerged across the nation, waiting to be updated fully into HD color. Just as we seldom see pictures of American war dead returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, we seldom see newscasts of the struggling, jobless masses lining up for handouts. But they are lining up, and the scene is not one we are inured to, that of the disheveled homeless, the permanent underclass being ladled turkey dinners by apron-clad celebrities at Skid Row kitchens at holiday time. Rather, neatly dressed, solidly middle class, once working folk fill these bread lines as they become reconciled to a stark new reality. At the same time, this generation of jobless and the underemployed has yet to embrace what is shaping up to be nothing but the 1930s redux, and their voices murmur inconsistent notes of doubt, disillusionment and hope.

They listen daily to banal statistics--consumer indices, home prices, housing starts, unemployment insurance claims--intoned by newscasters batting the cycle of adjectives for up and down, and they hope for no sound reason that these same talking heads that propelled them to invest in stocks and homes that would only appreciate will imminently announce a combination of factors that will dispel this economic morass. It's as if those contentious, post-ironic Shepard Fairey "Hope" stickers that remain plastered across the nation continue to radiate hypnotic beams convincing the viewer that prosperity is just around the corner. And so here are some voices of that doubt, disillusion and hope, culled from a region especially hurting: the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

Sylmar, Calif., as distant geographically from downtown L.A.'s Skid Row as you can get and remain within Los Angeles County, is visually too a sea change from Skid Row's piss-stained concrete pavement. Hard up against the Angeles National Forest, the rugged ridgeline of the San Gabriel Mountains spreads majestically from east to west along the horizon, and here on a recent summer afternoon a breeze fragrant with citrus cools a crowd of people who sit quietly beneath the shade of churchyard trees. But this is no church picnic. There is no Frisbee being tossed around, no music being played; no one has prepared his or her favorite potato salad to share. They are here to get a box full of donated food from the First Baptist Church food pantry, a situation with which many of them have only recently become familiarized, and an overwhelming sense of apprehension prevails among the crowd, some 200 strong, akin to that among displaced persons in the aftermath of a building fire. They know this is not the normal order of things and fear the future.

A horseman wearing a white straw Stetson trots past astride a palomino and waves lazily, his hat contrasting strongly with his skin, and a scene straight out of Steinbeck is complete. He is brown, a campesino like the wiry, muscled young men in work clothes speaking quietly in Spanish among themselves in the bread line. There are mothers, too, trying to keep their place while controlling kids, a thin man with a military posture in GI desert boots, and a few sullen and obese cholo types sporting shaved heads and the "M13" inked into forearms displaying allegiance to the Mexican Mafia street gang. There's also a clean-cut man with a pink face, the clean-shaven face of a banker.

Turns out he is a banker. A hedge-funder formerly with Bear Stearns, Matt, 39, lost his last job some two years ago. He is a soft-spoken man who used to buy and sell companies, and today he has no qualms with the bread line. "There's no stigma attached to this anymore," explains the Navy vet, who has simply given up on the idea of getting a job anytime soon. "I'm starting my own business. I take consulting work when I can, and I'm jettisoning my house." ("You can't be self-employed for this Obama mortgage refinancing, so I'm screwed," he adds.)

This Anti-Muslim Bigotry Has Got to Stop

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Its just sickening how intense the demagoguery has gotten and the harm it is causing completely innocent Muslim Americans. How can a reasonable American of any political stripe feel anything but anger and shame over the fact that such blatant display of bigotry has gained the level of currency it has? It is these bigots who are anti-American and dangerous, not the Muslims they irrationally hold in contempt.

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Blackwater (Xe) Found Deceptive

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Blackwater was not forthright in the ways it tried to get and got military and CIA contracts worth hundreds of millions? Gee...really? And here I thought the mercenary services company was headed up by a Christian. It is? Oh my....I wonder what Jesus would think of a man who sold his violence for sheckles?

Blackwater Won Contracts via Web of Companies

By James Risen and Mark Mazzetti

Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week released a chart that identified 31 affiliates of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. The network was disclosed as part of a committee's investigation into government contracting. The investigation revealed the lengths to which Blackwater went to continue winning contracts after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. That episode and other reports of abuses led to criminal and Congressional investigations, and cost the company its lucrative security contract with the State Department in Iraq.

The network of companies -- which include several businesses located in offshore tax havens -- allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials or the public, and to assure a low profile for any of its classified activities, said former Blackwater officials, who, like the government officials, spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that it was worth "looking into why Blackwater would need to create the dozens of other names" and said he had requested that the Justice Department investigate whether Blackwater officers misled the government when using subsidiaries to solicit contracts

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...for their own good.

Its all about the structure of the economy. Americans have this fantasy that it is possible to base their economy on the premise that boundless individual wealth acquisition is all that matters. The fantasy is flawed in that the exact problem of capitalism is its "black hole" tendency where as capital is accrued, it sucks more and more capital toward it...a sort of "there can only be one" mechanism at the expense of the common good. Its a commonly accepted idea; after all, we all grew up learning to play Monopoly. The problem of course is that real life is not a board game and economy has real consequences.

governor.gifThe governor mechanisms that saves capitalism from this flaw of ever accelerating self-consumption ("the rich get rich, the poor get poorer") is redistribution or "sharing the wealth" where excessive individual wealth gets plowed back into the common weal by way of progressive taxation, higher average wages and/or social programs like the famed post-WWII GI Bill.

Henry Ford understood this moderating feedback idea perfectly which is why he offered his workers double the average pay rate of the day in order that his workers be able to afford to buy the very product they were producing. This of course drew howls of derision from other short-sighted employers who were more interested in beating up and killing union organizers they saw as thieves and disruptors of their God-given right to be wealthy beyond all measure.

What the extremely wealthy don't seem to get is that a healthy and comfortable middle class acts as the buffer to the necessity of achieving wealth redistribution by way of revolution.

Reality has a way of snapping people out of their fantasies. As more and more people lose their middle class status the "boundless individual wealth acquisition" premise will come to be seen for the toxic economic ruse that it is. If you think people are angry right now...you know where it goes...and don't forget about the ability of the internet to unleash the flash mob.


How to End the Great Recession

By Robert B. Reich

This promises to be the worst Labor Day in the memory of most Americans. Organized labor is down to about 7 percent of the private work force. Members of non-organized labor -- most of the rest of us -- are unemployed, underemployed or underwater. Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will almost surely show fewer new jobs created in August than the 125,000 needed just to keep up with growth of the potential work force.

The national economy isn't escaping the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. None of the standard booster rockets are working: near-zero short-term interest rates from the Fed, almost record-low borrowing costs in the bond market, a giant stimulus package and tax credits for small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed have all failed to do enough.

That's because the real problem has to do with the structure of the economy, not the business cycle. No booster rocket can work unless consumers are able, at some point, to keep the economy moving on their own. But consumers no longer have the purchasing power to buy the goods and services they produce as workers; for some time now, their means haven't kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them.

This crisis began decades ago when a new wave of technology -- things like satellite communications, container ships, computers and eventually the Internet -- made it cheaper for American employers to use low-wage labor abroad or labor-replacing software here at home than to continue paying the typical worker a middle-class wage. Even though the American economy kept growing, hourly wages flattened. The median male worker earns less today, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.

But for years American families kept spending as if their incomes were keeping pace with overall economic growth. And their spending fueled continued growth. How did families manage this trick? First, women streamed into the paid work force. By the late 1990s, more than 60 percent of mothers with young children worked outside the home (in 1966, only 24 percent did).

Second, everyone put in more hours. What families didn't receive in wage increases they made up for in work increases. By the mid-2000s, the typical male worker was putting in roughly 100 hours more each year than two decades before, and the typical female worker about 200 hours more.

When American families couldn't squeeze any more income out of these two coping mechanisms, they embarked on a third: going ever deeper into debt. This seemed painless -- as long as home prices were soaring. From 2002 to 2007, American households extracted $2.3 trillion from their homes.

Eventually, of course, the debt bubble burst -- and with it, the last coping mechanism. Now we're left to deal with the underlying problem that we've avoided for decades. Even if nearly everyone was employed, the vast middle class still wouldn't have enough money to buy what the economy is capable of producing.

Where have all the economic gains gone? Mostly to the top. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty examined tax returns from 1913 to 2008. They discovered an interesting pattern. In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation's total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income.


Ed Schultz vs Beck

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G0 Ed!

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Part 2

HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff appeared on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Thursday night to weigh in on the "my demo is bigger than your demo" war of words between host Ed Schultz and Fox News host Glenn Beck.

Sekoff dismissed Beck's effectiveness at rallying people to his cause, noting that the Fox host has been less than successful when it comes to taking down Barack Obama, the stimulus, the health care bill or financial reform. But he cautioned that Beck's disaffected adherents shouldn't simply be ignored.

"I think we have to be careful not to denigrate the people who turned out to the Mall or to try to put down or to make it sound like there's less real, legitimate anger in the country. There's a lot of suffering, Ed, as you've documented in the show day after day," Sekoff said. "The danger for progressives is they can't leave a vacuum for a charlatan and a demagogue like Beck preaching a phony gospel of unity when he's really talking about hate."

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Throw the bums out!

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This populist chant could be just as easily aimed at main stream media people as it usually is at ineffective and corrupt politicians.

Our Enabling Media Is Worse Than Ever

By Stanley Kutler

Thomas Jefferson periodically expressed support for a free press as essential to an "enlightened citizenry," but when the reality of political life settled on him during his presidency and beyond, Jefferson had harsh words for it. The newspapers, he complained in 1803, "present only the caricatures of disaffected minds." In his "retirement" a decade later, Jefferson deplored the "putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them." The press' capacity for mischief was ravenous, Jefferson complained.

The media of the day, he said, were "like the clergy, [who] live by the zeal they can kindle and the schisms they can create."

collusion.jpgJefferson never met 21st century radio and television, with their volatile contributions to the media mix. Today, the media largely offers us the irresponsible, shoddy, pernicious zeal and schisms he so deplored and feared. Recently, Maureen Dowd channeled Jefferson's criticisms with her searing characterization of her colleagues as "spreading fear and disinformation that is amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment."

The mainstream media marches on, duly disseminating all the managed news fit to print or speak. Witness the reporting on the forthcoming November elections. "Forthcoming elections" have equal urgency, whether we are talking 2010 or 2012, and the electoral process provides fertile feeding grounds for the media. "Politics all the time," MSNBC trumpets in promotional spots, while arch-rival Fox merely politicizes everything. The marathon that was the 2008 election might have left us politics-exhausted, but did not.

Since 2008, the media have relentlessly pursued political happenings (and non-happenings), with reporters duly repeating partisan handouts as if they offered "news," reading tea leaves or ratcheting up the noise and placards of tea parties. We are bombarded with tales of unrest, anger and disaffection among the natives, anxious to march to polls to toss out the "rascal," that is, incumbents.

All this, we are to believe, is grass-roots democracy, with folks spontaneously gathering to air their grievances. It offers all the spontaneity of a pointillist painting.

A year after Barack Obama's election, a year of apparent grace for the president, media pundits turned attention to the 47 percent who did not support him. His victory left many angry and disaffected, and their hostility soon turned to a visceral hatred, quite often blatantly predicated on race. What else could be the meaning of all the signs and speeches proclaiming a determination "to save the Republic" and "to get our country back?" And along came "tea parties," a symbolic heralding of "revolution," not out of nowhere, but well-funded and choreographed by familiar political operatives and ideologues in search of a new vehicle.

Pros, not amateurs, lead this movement. They well know that hostility, disaffection and anger are red meat for the media, anxious to pursue "new" story lines, and an easy avenue to disseminate their anti-Obama line. Glenn Beck, of course, provides a divine afflatus. He would have us believe that he decided to hold a "political rally," but "God dropped a giant sandbag on my head" and told him he had to awaken America.

The political hysteria over hordes of illegals which prompted is shown to be just that by data demonstrating that illegal immigration is actually down by 67% over the last decade.

Now it appears that AZ governor Jan Brewer has ties to a lobbyist for a local prison that could monetarily benefit from the incarceration of those arrested under the draconian SB 1070 bill she signed into law recently. Her campaign has also removed all advertising from a local TV station in retaliation for its ongoing investigations into the lobbyist connections. As they say, follow the money.

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The many are drowned out by a plutocratic few

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Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever, classless and free
But you're all still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

John Lennon -"Working Class Hero"

This Side of Democracy

By Stuart Whatley

Ignorance and poverty, and the lack of material means generally, prevent people from exercising their rights and from taking advantage of [opportunities]. But rather than counting these and similar obstacles as restricting a person's liberty, we count them as affecting the worth of liberty, that is, the usefulness to persons of their liberties. ~ John Rawls


As it is an election year amidst the Great Recession, talk of the American plutocracy is very much in vogue. But to label the situation as unique belies centuries of history. A politico-economic class structure has long been an operative distorting force in American government; and long has the value of civic expression and democratic agency for the many been seen as dwarfed by the clout and privilege of a wealthy few.

Every American has the right to speak out, to express views, and to serve as an advocate for all manner of issues and prospective leaders. But having rights doesn't necessarily mean they're valuable, or even useful at all. At times, many ordinary Americans feel as though they're just shooting blanks--electorally speaking of course--and with each new doubter in the process a vicious cycle ensues; the discouraged classes grow more cynical and abandon the civic process altogether, while select special interests exploit and occupy the space left behind. Campaign finance can be dry stuff, but it is ignored at one's peril, as it is the current election funding regime--and the perverse incentives it fosters--that undergirds much of the integrity of our entire political structure and the policies it propounds.

American democracy is in an era defined by political and economic strife, where the calls for reform are desperate and often shrill. This is of little surprise. The flaws in the system are obvious when one looks to the lukewarm reforms over the past year in health care and financial regulation, and the altogether abandoned cap and trade effort--all of which began with lofty promises, but ultimately pleased few when codified. It is a heady experience to think what would have come to pass had reforms already been in place two years ago to dilute the codependency between lawmakers and their benefactors. Millions of individual small donors helped usher Barack Obama into the White House. What if the same could be said for the 535 esteemed members of the United States Congress?

Of course, when the many are drowned out by a plutocratic few, the answer has always been to simply pile on more regulations, only to watch the courts inexorably shoot each down. Opponents of big government stand the line against opponents of big business, with each side exchanging the same stalemated arguments of corruption in government on the one hand and free speech on the other.

Taqiyya Revisited

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On Aug 11 of this year I made as post titled "Taqiyya" which included a slick youtube vid piece of anti-Muslim propaganda which raised the specter in part that Muslims could not be trusted to be honest in their dealings with un-believers because of a tenet in their faith called "taqiyya" which was portrayed as prophet sanctioned "right to lie and deceive the infidel".

A Muslim named Amad from Muslimmatters.org responded to the post with some comment insights and clarifications as well as a link to an article at Loonwatch.com which debunks that notion and puts a completely different contextual perspective regarding "taqiyya" on the semantic table.

It was enlightening to say the least to discover how my own ignorance of Muslim culture had led me to unwarranted fears about the meaning of taqiyya...me who prides himself on being completely unbigoted toward any group. I urge my readers to elevate their perspective on this matter by reading the original post and comments and then the article at loonwatch.

The excerpt below is from that article:

Lying to Unbelievers?

Robert Spencer has implied in his book and website that Muslims are instructed to be honest only to fellow Muslims, and that they can lie to unbelievers.  Says Spencer:

Muhammad minced no words about the necessity of telling the truth...However, as with so many other Islamic principles, this is largely a matter between believers.  When it comes to unbelievers-particularly those who are at war with Muslims-Muhammad enunciated a quite different principle: "War is deceit." Specifically, he taught that lying was permissible in battle.

As I have said in my previous article criticizing Robert Spencer's methodology, he mixes half-truths (70% of his writings) with outright lies (the remaining 30%).  Here is where Spencer slips in a bold-faced lie.  (The irony of using deception while writing an article on deception should not be lost.)  In the text above, Spencer implies that Muslims don't have to be honest with non-Muslims.  However, the reality is that the Prophet Muhammad never said that a Muslim can lie to a non-Muslim.  What he did say was:

Lying is not permitted except in three cases: (1) a man's speaking to his wife to make her happy; (2) lying at times of war; (3) and lying in order to reconcile between people.

Do you see the word "unbeliever", "non-Muslim", or "infidel" anywhere there?  No, no, and no.  Lying is permitted during war, and this has nothing to do with being a Muslim or non-Muslim.  Being a non-Muslim in this case is merely incidental.  Spencer's insinuation to the contrary is dishonest and...deceitful.  Had the Prophet Muhammad wanted to say that lying to unbelievers is permitted, then he would simply have said as much: "Lying is not permitted except in three cases...(2) lying to unbelievers."  But he didn't.  And I challenge Spencer to bring forth a single quote from the Quran or the Prophetic traditions saying anything of the sort.

To be ethically inspired

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I was over at my parents the other day watching a movie with them and my sisters based on a true story about a young amateur golfer named Francis Ouimet during the early 20th century who managed against huge odds to win the 1913 US Open tournament while competing with major pros, including the famous Harry Vardon.
Hail the Underdog!

It proved to be an excellent movie that managed to make the tournament a nail biting roller coaster ride while simultaneously expressing a range of human frailties and ethical heroics. By the end my sister asks me if I was crying. I said I was teared up at the expression human goodness...when you get to witness good men or woman doing the right thing. That always gets to me. Its why I teared up when I knew that America had elected Obama. To wit:


I Feel Good: Elevation, Positive Thinking & The Persistence of Racism

By Jessie

Everyone, it seems, likes a story with a happy ending.  It may be a particularly American cultural phenomenon or part of human brain structure.  But the rather relentless focus on cheerful positive thinking is also getting in the way of confronting the persistence of racism in the U.S.

In the U.S., the prevailing narrative about race is that "racial dynamics have been transformed," first by the Civil Rights Movement and most recently - and finally - by the election of President Barack Obama.   We see this meme repeated again and again by mainstream news media, in popular movies (e.g., "Blind Side" and the entire genre of "white savior" films), and in personal conversation.   There is something in this narrative that speaks to both a human desire for "elevation" and the American quest to be "positive."

Roger Ebert, film and social critic, explains that he's never moved to tears by sad moments in movies, just during "moments about goodness."   Ebert describes the feeling this way:

"What I experience is the welling up of a few tears in my eyes, a certain tightness in my throat, and a feeling of uplift: Yes, there is a good person, doing a good thing. And when the movie is over, I don't want to talk with anyone. After such movies I notice that many audience members remain in a kind of reverie. Those who break the spell by feeling compelled to say something don't have an emotional clue."

This is the feeling that the movie "Blind Side" was supposed to evoke.   Ebert doesn't mention the Sandra Bullock movie, but touches on race when he goes on to compare that feeling to the way he - and lots of other people - felt in Grant Park the night President Obama was elected.

In an article at Slate.com by Emily Yoffe, "Obama in Your Heart," she describes a study about "the emotions of uplift" conducted by Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC-Berkeley, who had studied physical responses in test subjects who are deeply moved -- what psychologists call "elevation." Yoffe writes:

Elevation has always existed but has just moved out of the realm of philosophy and religion and been recognized as a distinct emotional state and a subject for psychological study. Psychology has long focused on what goes wrong, but in the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in "positive psychology"-what makes us feel good and why. University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who coined the term elevation, writes, "Powerful moments of elevation sometimes seem to push a mental 'reset button,' wiping out feelings of cynicism and replacing them with feelings of hope, love, and optimism, and a sense of moral inspiration."

Trying to Fix What Ain't Broke

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If the psuedo-science of gay reparative therapies wasn't so destructive to the individuals assaulted by it and and so damaging to the culture at large by way of preserving the historical ignorance, stereotypes and general distortions about homosexuality, the naive techniques it dreams up and uses and then consistently fails at would actually be funny in an absurd sort of way. Sadly though, the overall effect of such unlicensed therapies is a cruel horror story of unparalleled stupidities which needs to exposed and eliminated.

6 Ways Religious Frauds Try to Make Gays and Lesbians Straight

Thanks to the unscientific, unregulated underworld of ex-gay therapy, frauds and hacks of all stripes are getting away with any kind of therapy they can think up.

by Ted Cox

The "ex-gay" movement, which purports to save religious men and women from their unwanted same-sex attractions, will resort to any method to scam its unfortunate adherents.

Earlier this month, Truth Wins Out, an organization run by ex-gay-group watchdog Wayne Besen,* released an exclusive video of two men describing how ex-gay life coach Alan Downing had encouraged them in separate counseling sessions to stand before a mirror, undress and touch themselves.

A significantly older life coach, who also admits to being attracted to men, making 20-something men strip naked in his office? In the unscientific, unregulated underworld of ex-gay therapy, frauds and hacks of all stripes are getting away with any kind of "therapy" they can think up.

Make no mistake: every major, reputable professional psychological and medical association has stated that not only is there no evidence supporting the possibility of changing somebody's sexual orientation, but that such programs harm those involved; depression and suicide are all-too-common in the ex-gay world.

Follow the link below to see some of the strangest and most disturbing techniques ex-gay leaders use in their failed attempts to turn their victims -- who are tragically struggling to reconcile their faith with their sexuality -- straight.

Inexpensive Glasses

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Fortunately for me, my life of being extremely near sighted slowly came to an end as I passed through middle age as my eyes grew far sighted instead which resulted in nearly perfect distant vision to the point where I no longer need lenses at all except for reading. But during my days as lens wearer, I always had been aghast at what average glasses or contacts cost and suspected that the markups must be huge. Here's confirmation on that industry wide thievery and tips on how to avoid it and buy cheaply online.

Eyewear Industry Is Incredible Ripoff

What makes glasses so expensive? Oblong plastic lenses? Plastic and metal frames? We're getting screwed

by Anneli Rufus

Those of us who need prescription eyewear need prescription eyewear. Are you wearing yours to read this? Imagine if you weren't. Imagine life without your glasses for a year, a week, an hour. Yet many health insurance plans, especially for the unemployed or self-employed, don't cover them.

Mine doesn't.

Last year, I went shopping for no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames. Name brands mean nothing to me. Price does. My high astigmatism and need for bifocals disqualify me from those buy-one-get-one-free deals, which almost always involve only single-vision specs.

In store after store, megachains and optical boutiques alike, small oval metal frames fitted with lenses matching my prescription started at $300. One popular shop quoted me $582 for the lenses alone.

I bought a pair of no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames for $44 online. I'm wearing them right now.

Perhaps because prescription glasses are where medicine meets fashion, they're among the world's most overpriced merchandise. Imperfect eyesight isn't your fault: You can't make yourself nearsighted by eating too much fudge. Yet if your health plan excludes vision care, you've spent years at the mercy of a $64 billion industry characterized by 500-percent markups.

This has begun to change over the last few years. A knowledge-is-power, power-to-the-people, Web-driven DIY wave is rocking the optical industry's very foundations. Dozens of companies now sell prescription glasses online, frames and lenses included, for as little as $7.95.

It works like this: Google "cheap glasses" to find a frame you like at a price you like at a site you like. (Among the most popular are 39DollarGlasses, ZenniOptical -- where I bought mine -- and Goggles4U.) Use the virtual fitting mechanism to "try it on." Type in your prescription (obtained from an actual eye doctor), pupillary distance (aka PD, derived by measuring the space between your pupils with a ruler), address and payment information. Send.

No Irony Here

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FISH_bin_laden_glenn_beck-500.jpg

And on a Fox station no less.

The guy in opposition to the ad is an idiot with the same old malarkey about pot being a gateway drug, and say stupid stuff like: "What's next medical cocaine, medical heroin....?" Duh, like yeah...those both already are used medically...what a knucklehead. Same old conflation between use and abuse.

 

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